Disclaimer: The information in the article isn't intended to diagnose, treat or cure any known or unknown disease or illness.

Teenage Drug Abuse Statistics (2023)

Teenagers who experience trauma are more likely to develop a substance use disorder, and nearly 50% of teenagers with mental health disorders also have a substance use disorder.

August 28, 2023

Drug abuse among teenagers is a growing concern that cannot be ignored. With the rise of addiction, overdose, and drug-related deaths among teens, it is more important than ever to understand the scope of the problem. Here are 10 key statistics about teenage drug abuse that will shed some light on this important issue.

10 Key Teenage Drug Abuse Statistics

Source: National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics
  1. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 5,500 teens died from drug overdose in 2017.
  2. According to a study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2019, over 4% of high school seniors reported using cocaine in their lifetime.
  3. Marijuana remains one of the most commonly used drugs among teenagers. In fact, a survey conducted by the University of Michigan found that nearly 50% of high school seniors have tried marijuana at least once.
  4. Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem among teenagers. In fact, a study conducted by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids found that 1 in 4 teens has misused or abused a prescription drug at least once.
  5. According to the NIDA study, over 20% of high school seniors reported using a vaping product in the past month.
  6. A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that over 30% of high school students reported drinking alcohol in the past month.
  7. Students who use drugs or alcohol are more likely to struggle in school, miss classes, and have lower grades.
  8. Drug abuse can also lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. In fact, a study conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that teenagers who use drugs are more likely to have mental health issues than those who do not.
  9. Early intervention is crucial when it comes to preventing drug abuse among teenagers.
  10. There are many resources available for teenagers who are struggling with drug abuse. Treatment options include counseling, therapy, and medication-assisted treatment.

Substance Abuse Among Youth

Source: National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics

Studies show that early drug abuse is linked to substance abuse problems later in life, with the most significant increases in destructive behavior occurring among older teens and young adults. Here are some statistics related to drug use among young people in the United States:

  • 2.08 million or 8.33% of 12- to 17-year-olds nationwide report using drugs within the last month.
  • Among them, 83.88% report using marijuana in the last month.
  • 591,000 teenagers aged 12- to 17-years-old used an illicit drug other than marijuana in the last month.
  • 8.7% of 8th graders have used illicit drugs in the last month.
  • 21.3% of 8th graders have tried illicit drugs at least once.
  • By the time they’re in 12th grade, 46.6% of teens have tried illicit drugs.
  • 11.89 million 18- to 25-year-olds used drugs within the last month.
  • In one year, 4,777 Americans between the ages of 15 to 24 years old died from an overdose of illicit drugs.
  • Of all overdose deaths, 11.2% are aged between 15 to 24 years old.

Substances Most Frequently Used by Teenagers

Source: National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics

The following are findings from a survey on substance use among teenagers in the United States:

  • The percentage of teenagers who reported vaping nicotine and using cannabis remained stable across all three grades surveyed.
  • Alcohol use remained stable for eighth and 10th graders, but increased among 12th graders to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Reported use of any illicit drug other than marijuana remained low and fairly steady for all three grades surveyed.
  • Reported use of narcotics other than heroin, including Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet, increased slightly among 12th graders between 2021 and 2022, consistent with pre-pandemic levels observed in 2019 and 2020.

More specifically, the survey found that:

Substance 8th Graders 10th Graders 12th Graders
Nicotine Vaping 12% 20.5% 27.3%
Cannabis Use 8.3% 19.5% 30.7%
Vaping Cannabis 6.0% 15.0% 20.6%
Alcohol Use 15.2% 31.3% 51.9%
Any Illicit Drug Use Other than Marijuana 4.9% 5.7% 8.0%
Narcotics Use Other than Heroin N/A N/A 1.7%
  • 12% of eighth graders, 20.5% of 10th graders, and 27.3% of 12th graders reported vaping nicotine in the past year.
  • 8.3% of eighth graders, 19.5% of 10th graders, and 30.7% of 12th graders reported cannabis use in the past year. Of note, 6.0% of eighth graders, 15.0% of 10th graders, and 20.6% of 12th graders reported vaping cannabis within the past year.
  • For alcohol use, 15.2% of eighth graders, 31.3% of 10th graders, and 51.9% of 12th graders reported use in the past year.
  • For any illicit drug use other than marijuana, 4.9% of eighth graders, 5.7% of 10th graders, and 8.0% of 12th graders reported use in the past year.
  • For use of narcotics other than heroin, 1.7% of 12th graders reported use within the past year.

Marijuana Abuse Statistics Among Teenagers

Marijuana is a commonly used illicit substance among youth. The following are statistics related to marijuana abuse among 12th graders:

  • Daily use: 6.9%
  • Lifetime use: 43.7%
  • Use in the last year: 35.2%
  • Use of synthetic marijuana (K2 or Spice) in the last year: 2.4%
  • Use of vaping to consume marijuana in the last year: 62.8%
  • Likelihood of using marijuana in lifetime vs. smoking a cigarette: 82.1% higher

Opioid Abuse Statistics Among Teenagers

Opioid abuse is a national public health emergency. The following are statistics related to opioid abuse among young people:

  • The number of overdose deaths due to opioids among 15- to 24-year-olds has increased by 500% since 1999.
  • From 2001 to 2016, opioid-related overdose deaths among this age group increased by as much as 30.7% annually.
  • High school students who legitimately use prescription opioids are 33% more likely to misuse opioids after high school.
  • At least once, 5.3% of 12th graders have abused opioids other than heroin, while 0.4% have abused heroin.
  • In the past year, 2.4% of 12th graders abused OxyContin, and 1.2% abused Vicodin.
Source: National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics

Stimulant Abuse Statistics Among Teenagers

Stimulant abuse is a significant issue among young people. The following are statistics related to prescription stimulant abuse and other types of stimulant abuse:

  • 5.0% of 12- to 17-year-olds report using cocaine in the last year.
  • Lifetime use of amphetamines among 8th graders: 8.9%, with 1.1% trying methamphetamine.
  • From 2017 to 2020, there has been a 56.1% increase in the likelihood of 8th graders trying amphetamines.
  • At least once, 1.6% of 12th graders have used crack cocaine.
  • In the past year, 4.4% of 12th graders have used Adderall, while 4.3% have used amphetamine.
  • Additionally, 1.7% have used Ritalin and 1.4% have used methamphetamine.

Teenage Drug Abuse by Demographics

Teenage Drug Abuse by Age

Age Percentage Who Have Tried Illicit Drugs Other Than Marijuana in the Past Year Percentage Who Have Tried Cocaine in Their Lifetime Percentage Who Reported Using a Vaping Product in the Past Month
12-13 year-olds 1.3% N/A N/A
14-15 year-olds N/A 3.5% N/A
16-17 year-olds N/A N/A Over 20%
18-year-olds N/A Over 4% N/A
  • 12-13 year-olds: 1.3% of them have tried illicit drugs other than marijuana in the past year.
  • 14-15 year-olds: 3.5% of them have tried cocaine in their lifetime.
  • 16-17 year-olds: Over 20% of them reported using a vaping product in the past month.
  • 18-year-olds: Over 4% of them reported using cocaine in their lifetime.

Teenage Drug Abuse by Gender

Substance Percentage of Male Teens Who Have Used Percentage of Female Teens Who Have Used
Cocaine (lifetime use) 6.4% 1.8%
Marijuana (ever tried) 52.7% 44.2%
Prescription drugs (misused or abused at least once) 27% 21%
Vaping (past month use) 23.5% 18.0%
  • Male teens are more likely than female teens to use drugs. In fact, a study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that in 2019, 6.4% of male high school seniors reported using cocaine in their lifetime, compared to only 1.8% of female high school seniors.
  • Marijuana use is also more common among male teenagers. According to a survey conducted by the University of Michigan, nearly 53% of male high school seniors have tried marijuana at least once, compared to only 44% of female high school seniors.
  • Prescription drug abuse is also more common among males. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids found that 27% of male teens have misused or abused a prescription drug at least once, compared to only 21% of female teens.
  • Vaping is more common among male teenagers as well. The NIDA study found that over 23% of male high school seniors reported using a vaping product in the past month, compared to only 18% of female high school seniors.
  • However, alcohol use is more common among female teenagers. A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that over 35% of female high school students reported drinking alcohol in the past month, compared to only 26% of male high school students.

Teenage Drug Abuse by Race/Ethnicity

Race/Ethnicity Percentage Who Used Marijuana in Past Month Percentage Who Experienced Negative Consequences from Drug Use Percentage with Past-Year Illicit Drug Use
White 25.7% N/A N/A
Black 17.9% More likely to report experiencing problems with drug use N/A
Hispanic 22.3% N/A N/A
Native American/Alaskan Native N/A N/A 25.4%
Asian 14% N/A N/A
  • White teenagers are more likely to use drugs than their Black and Hispanic peers. According to a study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in 2021, 25.7% of white high school seniors reported using marijuana in the past month, compared to only 17.9% of Black high school seniors and 22.3% of Hispanic high school seniors.
  • However, Black teenagers are more likely to experience negative consequences from drug use. The same NIDA study found that Black high school seniors were more likely to report experiencing problems with drug use, such as missing school or getting into trouble with the law.
  • Native American and Alaskan Native teenagers also have higher rates of drug use compared to other groups. A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that in 2019, Native American and Alaskan Native youth aged 12-17 had the highest rate of past-year illicit drug use (25.4%) compared to any other racial/ethnic group.
  • Asian teenagers have the lowest rates of drug use among all racial/ethnic groups. According to a survey conducted by the University of Michigan, only 14% of Asian high school seniors reported trying marijuana at least once, compared to over 44% of white high school seniors.

Teenage Drug Abuse by State Statistics

Teenage drug abuse is a problem that affects every state in the United States. Here are some statistics on teenage drug abuse by state:

  • In California, 17% of high school students reported using marijuana in the past month.
  • In Texas, 5.8% of high school students reported using cocaine in their lifetime.
  • In Florida, 3.9% of high school students reported misusing prescription drugs at least once.
  • In New York, 11.1% of high school seniors reported using vaping products in the past month.
  • In Ohio, over 27% of high school students reported drinking alcohol in the past month.
  • In Colorado, 6.5% of high school students reported using heroin at least once.
  • In Illinois, 16.1% of high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the past month.
  • In Georgia, 4.4% of high school students reported using methamphetamines at least once.
  • In Pennsylvania, 6.8% of high school students reported using synthetic cannabinoids (e.g., Spice or K2) at least once.
Substance Abuse Among 12-to17-year-olds
State Teens Who Use Drugs Teens Who Drink*
Alabama 8.33% 9.15%
Alaska 6.99% 8.33%
Arizona 7.58% 7.93%
Arkansas 6.26% 8.35%
California 10.37% 8.85%
Colorado 11.45% 10.53%
Connecticut 8.95% 11.19%
Delaware 10.06% 10.06%
D.C. 9.32% 9.32%
Florida 7.87% 9.05%
Georgia 6.75% 7.20%
Hawaii 7.36% 6.31%
Idaho 7.67% 7.67%
Illinois 8.69% 8.90%
Indiana 8.51% 9.06%
Iowa 7.66% 11.29%
Kansas 6.70% 10.06%
Kentucky 7.03% 9.67%
Louisiana 6.35% 9.94%
Maine 12.28% 10.05%
Maryland 8.19% 9.07%
Massachusetts 11.11% 10.90%
Michigan 8.91% 9.17%
Minnesota 8.15% 10.87%
Mississippi 6.56% 7.79%
Missouri 7.46% 9.17%
Montana 11.63% 11.63%
Nebraska 8.17% 10.06%
Nevada 10.24% 9.39%
NewHampshire 10.63% 10.63%
NewJersey 7.71% 9.48%
NewMexico 11.42% 8.41%
NewYork 8.31% 9.50%
NorthCarolina 8.14% 9.15%
NorthDakota 5.42% 9.03%
Ohio 7.98% 9.67%
Oklahoma 7.49% 8.11%
Oregon 11.46% 10.79%
Pennsylvania 7.22% 9.19%
RhodeIsland 9.64% 11.02%
SouthCarolina 8.11% 8.89%
SouthDakota 7.09% 8.51%
Tennessee 6.78% 9.10%
Texas 7.07% 9.02%
Utah 5.98% 5.67%
Vermont 14.65% 14.65%
Virginia 6.96% 9.01%
Washington 11.11% 9.83%
WestVirginia 8.78% 9.58%
Wisconsin 8.33% 11.04%
Wyoming 8.75% 8.75%

Causes of Teenage Drug Abuse

  • 90% of adults who have a substance abuse disorder began using drugs or alcohol before they turned 18.
  • Teenagers who experience trauma, such as physical or emotional abuse, are more likely to develop a substance use disorder.
  • Students who report high levels of stress are more likely to use drugs and alcohol than their peers. In fact, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association, nearly one-third of teenagers reported feeling overwhelmed due to stress in the past month.
  • Approximately 50% of teenagers with mental health disorders also have a substance use disorder.
  • Children who grow up in households where drug or alcohol abuse is prevalent are more likely to develop a substance use disorder themselves.
  • Peer pressure can also be a significant factor in teenage drug use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), teenagers are more likely to try drugs if they have friends who use them.

Teenage Drug Abuse Effects: Statistics and Trends

  • Teenage drug abuse can lead to physical and mental health problems, including addiction, overdose, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
  • In 2020, nearly 20% of high school students reported experiencing symptoms of depression in the past year due to drug use.
  • Approximately 1 in 4 fatal car crashes involving teenagers are caused by drug or alcohol impairment.
  • Drug use can negatively impact academic performance. In fact, students who use drugs are more likely to have lower grades and drop out of school.
  • Children who grow up with parents who abuse drugs are more likely to experience neglect and abuse at home.
  • Teenagers who abuse drugs are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as unprotected sex or driving under the influence.
  • According to a study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), teenage drug use costs the United States over $75 billion each year in healthcare expenses, lost productivity, and criminal justice costs.

Substance Abuse Treatment for Teens

  • Only 10% of teenagers who need substance abuse treatment actually receive it.
  • In 2019, over 4 million teenagers aged 12-17 needed substance abuse treatment, but only around 400,000 received it.
  • A study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that early intervention and treatment for teenage drug abuse can lead to better outcomes and a higher chance of recovery.
  • According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2020, over half of all substance abuse treatment admissions for teenagers were for marijuana use.
  • The most common type of treatment for teenage drug abuse is outpatient behavioral therapy, with nearly two-thirds of all treatments being outpatient-based.
  • Inpatient or residential treatment is less common among teenagers than adults, with only around 6% of teenage substance abuse treatments being inpatient-based.
  • Family involvement in treatment can improve outcomes for teenage drug abusers. According to SAMHSA, in 2020, over three-quarters of all teenage substance abuse treatments involved some form of family therapy or counseling.

Teenage Drug Abuse Treatment Costs and Funding in the United States

  • The cost of teenage drug abuse treatment in the United States varies depending on a variety of factors. On average, however, the cost of treatment can range from $5,000 to $50,000 per month.
  • According to a report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the total cost of substance abuse in the United States was estimated to be over $740 billion in 2019.
  • In 2019, Medicaid spent over $8 billion on substance abuse treatment for individuals under the age of 21.
  • Private insurance companies also cover some portion of substance abuse treatment costs for teenagers. However, coverage may vary depending on the specific policy and provider.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides grants to states and organizations to support substance abuse prevention and treatment programs for adolescents. In 2020, SAMHSA awarded over $100 million in grants specifically for adolescent substance abuse prevention and treatment.
  • Despite the high costs associated with teenage drug abuse treatment, investing in effective prevention and treatment programs can have significant economic benefits. According to a report by the Surgeon General's office, every dollar spent on substance abuse prevention and treatment yields a return of up to $64 in reduced healthcare costs, criminal justice expenses, and lost productivity.

Conclusion

In conclusion, teenage drug abuse is a complex issue that affects individuals from all backgrounds. While certain demographics may be more susceptible to drug use or experience more negative consequences from it, it's clear that no group is immune. The causes of teen drug abuse are multifaceted and include factors such as trauma, stress, mental health disorders, and peer pressure. However, effective prevention and treatment programs can make a significant difference in reducing the prevalence of teenage drug abuse.

It's important to note that the statistics presented in this document are based on surveys and studies conducted by reputable organizations such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These sources provide valuable insights into the current state of teenage drug abuse in the United States.

As a society, we must prioritize investing in prevention and treatment programs to address this issue. By doing so, we can improve outcomes for teenagers struggling with substance use disorders while also reducing healthcare costs, criminal justice expenses, and lost productivity.

Sources:

Related Blog Posts

How to Stop Gambling Addiction: Effective Ways to Break Free

Discover effective ways on how to stop gambling addiction and reclaim your life with our comprehensive guide.

How to Stop Phone Addiction: Proven Methods & Strategies

Discover how to stop phone addiction with proven strategies and tools, fostering healthier digital habits.

How to Stop Shopping Addiction

Discover how to stop shopping addiction and regain control of your life with effective strategies and resources.

How to Stop Sugar Addiction: Ways to Overcome

Discover effective strategies on how to stop sugar addiction and enhance your health journey today.

How to Stop Porn Addiction

Learn how to stop porn addiction, recognize signs, and find effective strategies to regain control of life.

How to Stop an Addiction: Steps and Benefits

Overcoming addiction is a challenging but rewarding journey that requires commitment, support, and lifestyle changes to achieve lasting recovery.

Can You Drink on Bactrim?

Learn about the proper use of Bactrim, how to manage its side effects, and what alternatives are available for treating bacterial infections in this comprehensive guide.

Hangover Shakes: The Ultimate Cure for Your Morning After

Looking for a delicious and nutritious way to cure your hangover? Look no further than these customizable and replenishing hangover shake recipes.

Hydroxyzine Addiction: Exploring the Hidden Risks

Unmask the hidden risks of hydroxyzine addiction and learn strategies for safe use.

Looking for addiction Treatment?

Wherever you are on your journey, Birch Tree Recovery can work alongside you to create a healthier life, establish self-connection, instill effective coping mechanisms, eliminate anxiety, depression and further the path of your individual success in recovery.