Teen Drug Abuse Statistics [Infographic]

Last Updated: Sep 20th 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

Teen Drug Abuse Statistics

While drug abuse is a problem for people of all ages, teen drug use is especially disturbing for several reasons. The adolescent years are often when people first experiment with drugs and, in some cases, become addicted to them. Teenagers have always been at the forefront of societal trends. If you’re a parent, of course, you have a very personal reason to care about teen drug abuse statistics.

Drug Use Among Teens is Slowly Declining

Drug use among teens is always changing. It fluctuates for a variety of reasons and varies from region to region. Different drugs also go through phases of popularity. According to a 2016 survey conducted by Monitoring the Future, drug use among teens is declining.

Teens and Marijuana Use

Teen drug use includes substances such as alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, heroin, as well as prescription drugs. No matter the substance of choice, drug abuse remains a serious problem for many teens. While it’s useful to look at large-scale and long-term trends, it’s also important to keep this information in perspective. While overall drug use is currently declining among teens, marijuana is an exception. With one study revealing that 23 percent of high school seniors smoked marijuana in the past month, marijuana is now more popular than tobacco or electronic cigarettes.

Marijuana Legalization

Many states are legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana. Unfortunately, this leads to the widespread perception that marijuana isn’t dangerous. Often, despite this perception, marijuana acts as a gateway drug. For example, a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that teens who regularly use marijuana were more likely to develop heavy drinking behavior and 26 times more likely to use other illicit drugs by the time they were 21. Additionally, the study found that teens who regularly use marijuana are 37 times more likely to be addicted to tobacco and have a heavy drinking pattern. Thus, marijuana use among teens isn’t always as harmless as some people believe.

Teens and Opioid Misuse

Fortunately, in the last 5 years, teen opioid use has steadily declined. Despite the rise of misuse among adults, teens continue to show disinterest in harder drugs such as heroin and prescription opioids. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, since 2012, the percentage of teen opioid use from grade eight to 12 has dropped by 45%, from 8.4% to 4.8%. Overall, heroin use continues to remain low, at 0.3% in all grade levels.

Helping Teens With Drug Problems

Reading these teen drug abuse statistics can be concerning. Whether they’re using alcohol, marijuana, opioids, or other substances, it’s important to identify an effective treatment. Often, the best approach is finding a reputable rehab program that gives the user a chance to get out of a problematic environment and recover. 1st Step Behavioral, an alcohol and drug rehab facility in Pompano Beach, Florida, helps clients of all ages overcome addiction. The methods that make this comprehensive treatment facility so effective include:

If you or a teenager in your life has an alcohol or drug problem, addiction doesn’t have to control you. 1st Step Behavioral helps you take control. For more information, call (866) 319-6126.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.