Seeing the Connections—The Future of Our Youth Is in Your Hands
Alcohol and drug use by children and youth are associated with poor academic performance, impaired development, mental health issues, and many factors that affect the health and behavior of youth. This fact sheet provides valuable data from the Nation’s most reliable data sources (including the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and Monitoring the Future) that can help you assist local media in their coverage of substance abuse issues where you live.
Drug Use Among Youth
• Among youths aged 12-17, 10.6 percent were current illicit drug users: 7.6 percent used marijuana, 3.6 percent used prescription-type drugs, 1.2 percent used inhalants, 0.8 percent used hallucinogens, and 0.5 percent used cocaine.1
• Higher rates of dependence or abuse were seen among persons initiating use at a younger age. For example, among adults aged 18 or older who first tried marijuana at age 14 or younger, 13.4 percent were classified with illicit drug dependence or abuse compared with only 2.7 percent of adults who had first used marijuana at age 18 or older.1
• With respect to using any illicit drug other than marijuana in the past 30 days, the rank order was as follows: 12th graders (10 percent), college students and 19-to 28-year-olds (both 8 percent), 10th graders (7 percent), and 8th graders (5 percent). Usage rates among 10th and 12th graders tended to be higher than among young adults.2
• In 2004, 10 percent of 12th graders reported annual use of amphetamines,
9.3 percent said they had used Vicodin, and 5 percent said they had used OxyContin in that time period. Amphetamines became the second-ranking illicit drug among high school seniors after marijuana.3
• Early substance abuse increases the likelihood of a person developing psychiatric disorders in his or her late 20s.4
• Persons who used tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit substances in earlier years were more likely to have diagnoses of major depressive disorder (MDD, 17 percent), alcohol dependence (23 percent), or substance use disorders (SUDs, 40 percent) in their late 20s.4
Youth Delinquent Behavior
• Youths who had run away from home in the past 12 months were more likely to have used alcohol, marijuana, or an illicit drug other than marijuana in the past year than youths who had not run away.5
• Marijuana was used in the past year by 23 percent of the runaways aged 12 to 17 and 12 percent of those who had not run away from home.5
• The percentages of youths engaging in delinquent behaviors rose with increasing frequency of marijuana use.6
• In 2003, more than 5.8 million youths engaged in serious fighting at school or work and almost 4.3 million took part in a group-against-group fight in the past year.7
• Over half (57 percent) of those who used marijuana 300 or more days in the past year reported that they also sold illegal drugs.6
Perception of Harm
• Youths perceiving great risk from using marijuana once or twice a month were less likely to use substances than youths perceiving moderate, slight, or no risk.7
• Among youths aged 12 to 17, approximately 35 percent perceived great risk from smoking marijuana once a month, and 49.6 percent perceived great risk from using cocaine once a month. Smoking one or more packs of cigarettes per day was cited as a great risk by 67.5 percent of youths.1
Perception of Parental Disapproval
• Youths who perceive that their parents would “strongly disapprove” of their use of illicit substances were much less likely to use those substances than youths who perceived that their parents would “somewhat disapprove, or neither approve or disapprove.”1
• Among youths who perceived that their parents would strongly disapprove of their smoking one or more packs of cigarettes a day (90.6 percent of youths), only 8.8 percent had smoked cigarettes in the past month compared with 42.2 percent of youths who perceived that their parents would not strongly disapprove.1
• Most youths (89.8 percent) reported that their parents would strongly disapprove of their trying marijuana once or twice. Among these youths, only 5.1 percent had used marijuana in the past month. However, among youths who perceived that their parents would only somewhat disapprove or neither approve nor disapprove of their trying marijuana, 30 percent reported past month use of marijuana.1
Participation in Religious Activities
• In 2004, 7.9 million youths (32 percent) aged 12-17 attended religious services 25 times or more in the past year. More than three in four youths(18.9 million) reported that religious beliefs are a very important part of their lives and 68 percent (16.8 million) reported that religious beliefs influenced how they make decisions. Youths aged 12 to 17 with higher levels of religiosity were less likely to have used cigarettes, alcohol, or illicit drugs in the past month than youths with lower levels of religiosity.7
• Youths aged 12 to 17, those who participated in two or more youth activities during the past year were less likely to have used marijuana in the past month than other youths.7
Exposure to Prevention Messages
• Rates of past-year alcohol and illicit drug use were lower for youths who had seen or heard drug or alcohol prevention messages at school in the past year than youths who had not seen or heard drug or alcohol prevention messages at school.1
• Among youths aged 12 to 17 who were enrolled in school during the past 12 months, 78.2 percent reported having seen or heard drug or alcohol prevention messages in school during that period. Of those indicating they had seen or heard these messages, the rate of past-month marijuana use was
7.1 percent compared with 10.6 percent for the remaining youths.1
1. Office of Applied Studies. (2005). Results from the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings. Rockville, MD: SAMHSA.
2. Johnston, L.D., O’Malley, P.M. et al. (2004). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2003: Volume II College students and adults ages 19-45. Bethesda, MD: NIDA.
3. Johnston, L.D., O’Malley, P.M. et al. (2005). Monitoring the Future national results on adolescent drug use: Overview of key findings, 2004.
4. Brook. D.W., Brook, J.S., et al. (2002). Drug use and risk of major depressive disorder, alcohol dependence, and substance use disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59(11), 1039-1044.
5. Office of Applied Studies. (2004). The NSDUH Report: Substance Use Among Youths Who Had Run Away From Home. Rockville, MD: SAMHSA.
6. Office of Applied Studies. (2004). The NSDUH Report: Marijuana Use and Delinquent Behaviors Among Youths. Rockville, MD: SAMHSA.
7. Office of Applied Studies. (2005). Results from the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Rockville, MD: SAMHSA