Youth and Substance Use  (Highlights of reports listed from most recent to earliest release)

bulletAll reports on youth

bulletHighlights of reports on alcohol, tobacco & illicit drug use by youth (listed with most recent reports first):

The NSDUH Report: Nonmedical Use of Adderall® among Full-Time College Students    Adderall® is the brand name for an amphetamine formulation that is prescribed for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and for narcolepsy. Under the Controlled Substance Act, Adderall® is classified as a Schedule II drug because of its high potential for abuse and dependence. Data for this report on Adderall® was collected as part of SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health module on nonmedical use of prescription-type stimulants.  Among persons aged 18 to 22, full-time college students were twice as likely to use Adderall® nonmedically in the past year as those who had not been in college at all or were only part-time students.   Nearly 90% of the full-time college students who had used Adderall® nonmedically in the past year also were past month binge alcohol drinkers and more than half were heavy alcohol users. In the past year, full-time college students who had used Adderall® nonmedically in the past year were more likely to have used illicit drugs than their non Adderall® using counterparts: almost 3 times more likely to use marijuana (79.9% vs. 27.2%), 8 times more likely to use cocaine (28.9% vs. 3.6%), 8 times more likely to use tranquilizers nonmedically (24.5% vs. 3%) and 5 times more likely to use pain relievers nonmedically (44.9% vs. 8.7%).

The NSDUH Report:  Exposure to Substance Use Prevention Messages and Substance Use among Adolescents: 2002 to 2007   SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that that most youths have been exposed to some kind of substance use prevention message - - whether having seen or heard an alcohol or drug prevention message through the general media, participated in special classes about drugs or alcohol, or talked with a parent about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, or drug use.   The general media (such as radio, TV, posters, or pamphlets) was the primary source for substance use prevention messages. However, the percent of adolescents reporting exposure to drug or alcohol use prevention messages through media sources declined from 83.2% in 2002 to 77.9% in 2007.     The importance of parents as the source of substance use prevention messages increased slightly between 2002 and 2007. In 2002, 58.1% of the youths talked with at least one of their parents during the past year about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol or drug use and 59.6% of the youth had such talks in 2007.   Younger youth were more likely than older youth to report talking with a parent about the dangers of substance use: 61.6% of those aged 12 or 13, 59.5% of those aged 14 or 15, and 57.1% of those aged 16 or 17 had such talks.   In general, youths who had been exposed to some kind of substance use prevention message were less likely to report past month use of alcohol use, cigarettes, or illicit drugs than youths who had not had such prevention messages.

The NSDUH Report:  Trends in Adolescent Inhalant Use: 2002 to 2007    SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) defines inhalants as "liquids, sprays, and gases that people sniff or inhale to get high or to make them feel good." In 2007, almost one million youth used inhalants in the past year. The percentage of youths aged 12 to 17 who used inhalants in the past year was lower in 2007 (3.9%) than in 2003 (4.5%), 2004 (4.6%), and 2005 (4.5%).   Among youth who used inhalants for the first time in the past year, the rate of the use of nitrous oxide or "whippets" declined between 2002 and 2007 among both males (40.2% to 20.2%) and females (22.3% to 12.2%).  In 2007, 17.2% of youth who initiated illicit drug use during the past year indicated that inhalants were the first drug that they used; this rate remained relatively stable between 2002 and 2007.  Past year dependence on or abuse of inhalants remained relatively stable between 2002 and 2007 with around 99,000 youth meeting the criteria for dependence or abuse in 2007.

The NSDUH Report:  Marijuana Use and Perceived Risk of Use among Adolescents: 2002 to 2007   Based on SAMHSA's annual National Surveys on Drug Use and Health from 2002 to 2007, past month marijuana use among adolescents (i.e., youths aged 12 to 17) generally decreased from 2002 (8.2%) to 2005 (6.8%), and then remained constant between 2005 and 2007.   The percentage of adolescents who perceived great risk from smoking marijuana once a month increased between 2002 (32.4%) and 2003 (34.9%), and then remained relatively stable between 2003 and 2007.   Adolescents who perceived great risk from smoking marijuana once a month were much less likely to have used marijuana in the past month than those who perceived moderate to no risk (1.4% vs. 9.5%).

The NSDUH Report: Trends in Substance Use, Dependence or Abuse, and Treatment Among Adolescents: 2002 to 2007   Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, adolescent past month use of cigarettes, alcohol, and illicit drugs declined between 2002 and 2007 but little change occurred between 2006 and 2007.   Between 2002 and 2007, past month use by youth of cigarettes declined from 13.0% to 9.8%; alcohol from 17.6% to 15.9% and illicit drugs from 11.6% to 9.5%.   The decline in past month illicit drug use by youth can be attributed primarily to a decline in marijuana use: 8.2% used marijuana in 2002 compared with 6.7% in 2007.   Past year alcohol dependence or abuse among youth remained relatively stable between 2002 and 2007 but illicit drug dependence or abuse declined from 5.6% to 4.3%.   Among adolescents who needed treatment, there were no statistically significant changes in the percentage who received treatment for either alcohol or drugs between 2002 and 2007.

The NSDUH Report:  Parent Awareness of Youth Use of Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Marijuana   SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health includes a sample of parents and their children who live in the same household. These parent-child pairs are composed of a child aged 12 to 17 and his or her biological, step, adoptive, or foster parent.  Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, mothers were more likely than fathers to be aware of their child's substance use in the past year regardless of the household having only the mother or both parents.  Fathers in two parent households were more likely than fathers in father-only households to be aware of their child's substance use in the past year.  The older the child, the more likely that parents were aware of their child's alcohol and cigarette use in the past year.  Past year substance use by youth was higher in one-parent households than those with both parents.  Within one-parent households, substance use by youth was generally higher among youth in father-child pairs than mother-child pairs.

The NSDUH Report:  Quantity and Frequency of Alcohol Use among Underage Drinkers     Based on combined data from SAMHSA's 2005 to 2006 National Surveys on Drug Use & Health, an annual average of 28.3% of underage drinkers (10.8 million persons aged 12 to 20) drank alcohol in the past month.  Underage drinkers who drank in the past month used alcohol an average of 5.9 days in the past month and consumed an average of 4.9 alcoholic drinks per day on the days they drank in the past month.  Person under the legal age consumed, on average, more drinks per days on the days they drank in the past month than drinkers of legal age (4.9 drinks vs. 2.8 drinks).

 The DASIS Report: Adolescent Admissions Reporting Inhalants, 2006  Based on SAMHSA's Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), adolescents aged 12 to 17 accounted for 8% of admissions to substance abuse treatment in 2006; however, they represent 48% of all admissions reporting inhalants.  Females comprised a larger proportion of adolescent admissions reporting inhalants than of adolescent admissions not reporting inhalants (41% vs. 30%).  In 2006, 45% of adolescent admissions reporting inhalants had a concurrent psychiatric disorder in contrast to only 29% of their counterparts who did not report inhalants.

 The NSDUH Report:  Inhalant Use across the Adolescent Years    Inhalants were the most frequently reported class of illicit drugs use in the past year among adolescents age 12 (3.4%) or age 13 (4.8%).  Combined data from SAMHSA's 2002 to 2006 National Surveys on Drug Use & Health found an annual average of 593,000 youths aged 12 to 17 used an inhalant for the first time in the 12 months prior to their survey interview.    Among past year new inhalant users aged 12 to 15, the three most commonly used types of inhalants were: glue, shoe polish, or toluene; spray paints; and gasoline or lighter fluid. In comparison, nitrous oxide or "whippets" were the most common type of inhalant used among past year new inhalant users aged 16 or 17.   

The OAS Report:  A Day in the Life of American Adolescents: Substance Use Facts  Facts about substance use among youth aged 12 to 17 are based on data from SAMHSA's 2006 National Survey on Drug Use & Health (NSDUH) and SAMHSA's 2005 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), and for clients under the age of 18 from SAMHSA's 2005 National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS). Data are presented on first substance use, past year substance use, receipt of substance use treatment, and source of substance use treatment referrals "on an average day."  On an average day in 2006, youth used the following substances for the first time: 7,970 drank alcohol for the first time, 4,348 used an illicit drug for the first time, 4,082 smoked cigarettes for the first time, 3,577 used marijuana for the first time, and 2,517 used pain relievers nonmedically for the first time.  Youth who used alcohol in the past month drank an average of 4.7 drinks per day on the days they drank and those who smoked cigarettes in the past month smoked an average of 4.6 cigarettes per day on the days they smoked.  On an average day in 2005, the number of youth admissions to substance abuse treatment were referred by the following sources: 189 by the criminal justice system; 66 by self-referral or referral from other individuals; 43 by schools; 37 by community organizations; 22 by alcohol or drug treatment providers; and 18 by other health providers.  On an average day in 2005, active substance abuse treatment clients under the age of 18 received the following the types of substance abuse treatment: 76,240 were clients in outpatient treatment; 10,313 were clients in non-hospital residential treatment; and 1,058 were clients in hospital inpatient treatment.

The NSDUH Report: Depression and the Initiation of Alcohol and Other Drug Use among Youths Aged 12 to 17   Data from SAMHSA's 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health were used to examine the following in the past year: major depressive episode, initiation of alcohol or illicit drug use, and the association between such new alcohol and/or illicit drug use and major depressive episode. In 2005, 8.8% of youth (about 2.2 million youth) had experienced at least one major depressive episode during the past year.   Rates of major depressive episode varied by gender and age. About 2.7 million youth (15.4% of the youth who had not used alcohol previously) used alcohol for the first time in the past year.   About 1.5 million youth (7.6% of the youth who had not used an illicit drug previously) used at least one illicit drug in the past year. Among youth who had not used alcohol or an illicit drug previously, those with a major depressive episode were about twice as likely to start using alcohol or an illicit drug as youth who had not experienced a major depressive episode in the past year.   Among youth who had not used alcohol previously, 29.2% of those with a major depressive episode initiated alcohol use compared with 14.5% youth who had not experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. Among youth who had not used an illicit drug previously, 16.1% of those with a major depressive episode initiated illicit drug use compared with 6.9% youth who had not experienced a major depressive episode in the past year.

The NSDUH Report:  Youth Activities, Substance Use, and Family Income    Based on SAMHSA's 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 92.4% of youths aged 12 to 17 participated in one or more school-based, community-based, church or faith-based, or other such activities during the past year: 27.1% participated in one to three activities, 31.4% participated in four to six activities, and 33.9% participated in seven or more activities in the past year.   Youth in families of lower income were more likely not to participate in any school-based, community-based, church or faith-based or related activities; however, regardless of family income those youth who did participate had lower rates of cigarette, alcohol, or illicit drug use than those who did not participate in such activities.    The greater the number of activities, the lower the rates of past year use of cigarettes, alcohol, or illicit drugs among youth. For example, the rates of illicit drug use were 18.3% for youth who participated in no such activities, 11.9% for those with 1-3 activities, 9.4% for 4-6 activities, and 6.8% for 7 or more youth activities in the past year. 

The NSDUH Report:  Patterns and Trends in Inhalant Use by Adolescent Males and Females, 2002-2005   Combined data from SAMHSA's 2002 to 2005 National Surveys on Drug Use & Health found an annual average of 1.1 million (4.5%) youths aged 12 to 17 used an inhalant in the 12 months prior to being surveyed.     About 2.6% of all youth who had not used inhalants before were new users (that is, had used an inhalant for the first time in the past year.     The annual average of new users was 600,000 youth (289,000 males and 311,000 females).    The types of inhalants most frequently mentioned as having been used in the past year by new users were: glue, shoe polish, or toluene (30.5%), gasoline or lighter fluid (25.3%), nitrous oxide or "whippets" (23.9%), and spray paints (23.5%).Among new inhalants users, females were more likely than males to have used: glue, shoe polish, or toluene (34.9% vs. 25.8%); spray paints (26.1% vs. 20.8%); aerosol sprays other than spray paints (23.0% vs. 16.4%); correction fluid, degreaser, or cleaning fluid (23.4% vs. 13.6%); and amyl nitrite, "poppers," locker room odorizers, or "rush" (18.2% vs. 11.6%).    New male inhalant users were more likely than females to have used nitrous oxide or "whippets" (29.0% vs.19.3%).    Between 2002 and 2005, use of nitrous oxide or whippets declined among new inhalant users (from 31.6% to 21.3% in 2005).     In contrast, use of aerosol sprays other than spray paints doubled from 12.6% of new inhalant using youth in 2002 to 25.4% of new inhalant using youth in 2005.

The NSDUH Report:  Use of Marijuana and Blunts among Adolescents, 2005     Based on SAMHSA's 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.8% (1.7 million) youth aged 12 to 17 used marijuana in the past month and 3.5% (891,000) smoked "blunts" (cigars with marijuana in them) in the past month. In 2005, about half (52%) of past month marijuana users aged 12 to 17 also used blunts in the past month with males more likely than females to have smoked blunts (55.6% vs. 47.5%). Among past month marijuana using youths, rates of smoking blunts in the past month were highest in the Northeast (62.5%) and the South (54.4%) than in the Midwest (48.3%) and West (43.1%).

 The NSDUH Report:  Substance Use Treatment Need among Adolescents, 2003-2004   Combining data from the 2003-2004 SAMHSA's National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, SAMHSA's Office of Applied Studies was able to describe the demographic characteristics of youth who needed substance abuse treatment, those who perceived a need for substance abuse treatment, those who received treatment, and the treatment gap. The treatment gap is the unmet need for substance abuse treatment. Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1.5 million youths (6.1% youths aged 12 to 17) were classified as needing alcohol treatment in the past year and about 111,000 youth (7.2% of those needing alcohol treatment) received specialty treatment for alcohol in the past year. Specialty substance use treatment is defined as inpatient or outpatient treatment received at drug or alcohol rehabilitation facilities or mental health centers, or inpatient hospital treatment. About 1.4 million youths (5.4%) were classified as needing illicit drug use treatment in the past year and 124,000 (9.1% of those needing illicit drug treatment) received specialty treatment for an illicit drug in the past year. Youths aged 12 to 17 who were in need of substance use treatment in the past year and did not receive treatment were not likely to perceive a need for substance use treatment.

The NSDUH Report:   Academic Performance and Substance Use among Students Aged 12 to 17 (2002, 2003, & 2004)  Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use & Health, 70.4% of students aged 12 to 17 reported that they had an A or B grade average in their last semester or grading period, while 29.6% had a C average or less. Younger students were more likely to report good grades than older students; for example, 75.6% of students aged 12 or 13 reported an A or B average compared with 68.3% of students aged 16 or 17. Students who did not use alcohol in the past month (72.5%) were more likely to have an A or B grade average than those drank alcohol but did not binge (67.1%) or those who binge drank alcohol in the past month (57.7%). Students who did not use marijuana in the past month (72.2%) were more likely to have an A or B grade average than those who used marijuana on 1 to 4 days in the past month (58.0%) or those using marijuana on 5 or more days in the past month (44.9%).

The NSDUH Report:  State Estimates of Underage Drinking This SAMHSA report on underaged drinking (by persons aged 12 to 20) is based on State level data combined from 2 years of data, i.e. from SAMHSA's 2003 and 2004 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. Data are annualized estimates, that is, an average per year estimate is calculated from the combined data years. In 2003-2004, past month alcohol use rates for persons aged 12 to 20 were among the lowest in Utah (18.6%) and Tennessee (22.3%) and among the highest in North Dakota (42.7%) and South Dakota (39.1%). Between 2002-2003 and 2003-2004, past month alcohol use increased in California (from 24.7 to 26.3%) and Wisconsin (from 34.7% to 38.3%) while binge alcohol drinking increased in Iowa (from 24.7% to 27.7%) and Oklahoma (from 19.1% to 21.5%). Past month alcohol drinking decreased between 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 in South Carolina (from 27.2% to 24.1%) and Michigan (from 31.8% to 30.2%); while binge alcohol drinking decreased in South Carolina and North Carolina (both from 18.0% to 15.9%) and in Tennessee (from 15.9% to 13.1%).

The New DAWN Report:  Disposition of Emergency Department Visits for Drug-Related Suicide Attempts by Adolescents, 2004  According to SAMHSA's Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN),  in 2004 there were over 15,000 emergency department visits by adolescents aged 12 to 17 whose suicide attempts involved drugs.    Pain medications were involved in about half of the suicide attempts.  Almost three quarters of the drug related suicide attempts were serious enough to merit the patient's admission to the same hospital or transfer to another health care facility.  Antidepressants or other psychotherapeutic medications were involved in over 40% of the suicide attempts by adolescents who were admitted to the hospital. 

The NSDUH Report:  Characteristics of Recent Adolescent Inhalant Initiates In SAMHSA's 2002 to 2004 National Surveys on Drug Use & Health, an average of 598,000 youths aged 12 to 17 per year reported that they initiated inhalant use in the 12 months prior to being surveyed. The types of inhalants most frequently mentioned as having been used by recent initiates were: glue, shoe polish, or toluene (30.3%), gasoline or lighter fluid (24.9%), nitrous oxide or "whippets" (24.9%), and spray paints (23.4%). Among recent inhalants initiates, 19.4% used inhalants on 13 or more days in the past year. In 2002 to 2004, 59.7% of recent inhalant initiates aged 12 to 17 had used cigarettes prior to using inhalants, 67.6% had previously used alcohol, 42.4% had previously used marijuana, and 35.9% had used all three substances (cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana) before they used inhalants.

The NSDUH Report:  Substance Use and Employment among Youths Aged 15 to 17  Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 33.7% of youths aged 15 to 17 were employed either part or fulltime during the past week. Employed youths were more likely than youths who were not employed to have used alcohol (35.9% vs. 24.4%), to have engaged in binge alcohol use (24.6% vs. 15.2%), and to have used an illicit drug (19.4% vs. 15.6%) during the past month. Youths working 20 or more hours per week were more likely than those working 19 or fewer hours per week to have drunk alcohol (41.1% vs. 33.8%), to have binged on alcohol (29.0% vs. 23.1%), and to have used any illicit drug (22.3% vs. 18.5%) during the past month.

The NSDUH Report:  Youth Violence and Illicit Drug Use  Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use & Health, youths aged 12 to 17 who used an illicit drug in the past year were almost twice as likely to have engaged in a violent behavior as those who did not use an illicit drug (49.8% vs. 26.6%). Rates of past year violent behavior were higher among youths aged 13, 14, and 15 than those either younger or older. The likelihood of having engaged in violent behavior increased with the number of drugs used in the past year: 45.6% of youths who used one illicit drug engaged in violent behavior compared to 61.9% of youths who used three or more illicit drugs. 

The DAWN Report:  Emergency Department Visits Involving Underage Drinking  An estimated 142,701 alcohol-related emergency department (ED) visits reported to SAMHSA's Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) system were made by patients aged 12 to 20.  Nearly half (42%) of drug-related ED visits among patients aged 12 to 20 involved alcohol.  Patients aged 18 to 20 were approximately 3 times as likely as patients aged 12 to 17 to have an alcohol-related ED visit.  ED visits involving alcohol with other drugs were almost 2 times as likely as visits involving only alcohol to result in admission to the hospital for inpatient care (19% vs. 10%). 

The NSDUH Report:  Depression among Adolescents As reported in SAMHSA's 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 9% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 (approximately 2.2 million adolescents) had experienced at least one major depressive episode during the past year. Among adolescents aged 12 to 17 who experienced at least one major depressive episode during the past year, 40.3% reported having received treatment for depression during the past year. Adolescents who had experienced a major depressive episode in the past year were more than twice as likely to have used illicit drugs in the past month than their peers who had not experienced a major depressive episode in the past year (21.2% vs. 9.6%).

The NSDUH Report:  Substance Use among Hispanic Youths  Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in 2002 and 2003, Hispanic youths aged 12 to 17 were less likely to report past month alcohol use and past month marijuana use than non-Hispanic youths. Among Hispanic youths, Cuban youths had the highest rates of past month alcohol use while Puerto Rican youths had the highest rates of past month illicit drug use. Hispanic youths who were born in the United States were more likely to have used illicit drugs in the past month than Hispanic youths born outside the United States. 

The NSDUH Report:  Youths' Exposure to Substance Use Prevention Messages, 2003 Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2003, most youths have been exposed to some kind of substance abuse prevention message - - whether having seen or heard an alcohol or drug prevention message or talked with a parent about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, or drug use. About 84% of youths aged 12 to 17 (20.8 million) in 2003 reported having seen or heard an alcohol or drug prevention message from sources such as posters, pamphlets, radio, or TV in the past 12 months. About 59% of the youths (14.6 million) reported having talked with at least one of their parents during the past year about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol or drug use. Youth who had talked with a parent about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, or drug use in the past year were less likely to report past month alcohol use, binge alcohol use, or illicit drug use than youths who had not talked with a parent.

The NSDUH Report:  Mother's Serious Mental Illness and Substance Use among Youths Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2002 and 2003, an annual average of 18 million women aged 18 or older lived with a biological, foster, step, or adoptive child aged 12 to 17. About 11.9% of mothers (2.1 million) living with youths aged 12 to 17 had serious mental illness during the past year. About 3.2% of the mothers had both a serious mental illness and also reported illicit drug use, binge alcohol use, or heavy alcohol use during the past month. Youths living with a mother who had serious mental illness (SMI) were more likely to have used alcohol or an illicit drug during the past month (26.7%) than youths living with a mother who did not have SMI (18.8%).

The NSDUH Report:  Alcohol Use and Delinquent Behaviors among Youths  Youths who reported heavy alcohol use in the past month were the most likely to have participated in any of the six delinquent behaviors assessed in SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Heavy drinking was defined as drinking five or more alcoholic beverages on the same occasion on each of 5 or more days in the past 30 days. All heavy alcohol users are also binge alcohol users, i.e., drank five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least one day in the past 30 days. In 2003, an estimated 9 million (36.1%) youths aged 12 to 17 had engaged in at least one delinquent behavior in the past year. Almost 6 million (23.8%) took part in a serious fight at school or work; 4.5 million (18.1%) took part in a group-against-group fight; 2.1 million (8.3%) attacked someone with the intent to seriously hurt them; 1.1 million (4.5%) stole or tried to steal something worth more than $50; over 900,000 (3.6%) sold illegal drugs; and over 900,000 (3.6%) carried a handgun during the past year.

The NSDUH Report:  Inhalant Use and Delinquent Behaviors among Young Adolescents   SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use & Health found that in 2002 and 2003, an annual average of 718,000 (8.6%) youths aged 12 or 13 had used an inhalant in their lifetime. Youths aged 12 or 13 who used inhalants in their lifetime were more than twice as likely to have been in a serious fight at school or work during the past year than youths their age who had never used inhalants. About 35% of youths aged 12 or 13 who used inhalants in their lifetime also used another illicit drug compared with 7.5% of youths aged 12 or 13 who had never used inhalants in their lifetime.

The NSDUH Report:  Substance Use and Need for Treatment Among Youths Who Have Been in Foster Care About 680,000 youths (2.7%) aged 12 to 17 in the U.S. have ever been in foster care. Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, youths who have ever been in foster care had higher rates of any illicit drug use than youths who have never been in foster care (33.6% vs. 21.7%). Youths aged 12 to 17 who were in need of substance abuse treatment in the past year were more likely to have received treatment if they had ever been in foster care.

The NSDUH Report:  Youth Substance Use and Family Income  Based on SAMHSA's 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the lower the family income, the more likely that the youths had used cigarettes or an illegal drug in their lifetime. Youths in families with annual incomes of less than $20,000 were equally likely to have ever used alcohol or inhalants as those in families with incomes of $75,000 or more. Youths age 12 to 17 in families with annual incomes of less than $20,000 were more likely to have smoked cigarettes in their lifetime than those in families with incomes of $75,000 or more (35.4% vs. 25.2%). An estimated 15% of youths in families with annual incomes of less than $20,000 had ever used prescription-type drugs nonmedically compared with 11% of those in families with incomes of $75,000 or more.

The NSDUH Report:  Risk & Protective Factors for Substance Use Among American Indian or Alaska Native Youths SAMHSA's 2002/2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health provided data on three categories of risk factors for substance use among American Indian or Alaska Native youths: individual/peers, family, and school. American Indian or Alaska Native youths were more likely than other youths to perceive moderate to no risk associated with substance use, to perceive their parents as not strongly disapproving of their substance use, and to believe that all or most of the students in their school get drunk at least once a week. According to American Indian or Alaska Native youths, their parents were about as likely as those of other youths to talk to their child about dangers of substance use, to let the youth know they had done a good job, to tell their youth that they were proud of something they had done, to make their youth do chores around the house or to limit the amount of time watching TV. However, parents of American Indian or Alaska Native youths were less likely to provide help with school homework or to limit the time out with friends on school nights.

The NSDUH Report:  Underage Drinking in Rural Areas Based on SAMHSA's 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, rates of current underage drinking among youth aged 12 to 17 was higher in rural than nonrural areas. Current underage drinking among those aged 18 to 20, however, were higher in nonrural areas. Rural youth aged 12 to 17 reported lower levels of perceived risk from alcohol use, less disapproval of alcohol use, and less perceived parental disapproval of underage drinking than those in nonrural areas. Binge drinking (defined as 5 or more drinks on the same occasion at least one day in the past month) was also higher among rural youth age 12 to 17 (4.1%) than nonrural (1.6%) but did not differ by rural status for those aged 18 to 20.

The NSDUH Report: Participation in Youth Activities and Substance Use Among Youths Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, during 2002, approximately 91% of youths aged 12 to 17, participated in one or more school-based, community-based, church or faith-based, or other activities (e.g., karate lessons) during the past year. Rates of past year use of cigarettes, alcohol, or illicit drugs were lower among youth who participated in such activities than nonparticipants. 

The NSDUH Report:  Substance Use Among Youths Who Had Run Away From Home   Based on SAMHSA's 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 1.6 million youth (7%) aged 12 to 17 had run away from home and slept on the street in the past 12 months. Among youths aged 12 or 13, 6% had run away and among those aged 16 or 17, 10% had run away from home in the past 12 months. 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. Alcohol was used in the past year by 50% of the runaway youths aged 12 to 17 and 33% of those who had not run away from home. Marijuana was used in the past year by 23% of the runaways aged 12 to 18 and 12% of those who had not run away from home.

The NSDUH Report:  Graduated Driver Licensing and Drinking Among Young Drivers  Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 21% of young drivers aged 15 to 17 were binge drinkers and 6% were heavy drinkers during the combined years of 1999 to 2001. Rates of heavy drinking and binge drinking among young drivers varied by the States' Graduated Driver Licensing ratings, based on the extent to which they restrict driving behavior among young drivers. This report identifies the States categorized from most restrictive to least restrictive according to the 4 category rating scheme developed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation.

The NSDUH Report:  Inhalant Use Among Youths: 2002 Update   SAMHSA's 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that more than 2.6 million youths aged 12 to 17 reported using inhalants at least once in their lifetime. The categories of inhalants most frequently used in the youths' lifetime were glue, shoe polish or toluene (4.5%), gasoline or lighter fluid (3.5%), and spray paints (2.5%). Over half (53%) of the youths who used an inhalant, however, had used more than one type in their lifetime. Youths who had used an inhalant in the past year were about 3 times more likely to use marijuana, 4 times more likely to use prescription drugs nonmedically, and 7 times more likely to use hallucinogens than those who had not used inhalants in the past year.

The NSDUH Report:  How Youths Obtain Marijuana   SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that, in 2002, over 60 percent of youths aged 12 to 17 who had used marijuana in the past year obtained their most recently used marijuana for free or shared someone else's marijuana. Among youths who obtained marijuana for free or shared it, blacks (18 percent) were more likely than whites (9 percent) or Hispanics (7 percent) to have obtained it from a relative or family member. Among youths who bought their most recently used marijuana, white youths (9 percent) were more likely than black youths (4 percent) to have purchased it inside a school building.

The NSDUH Report:  Religious Beliefs and Substance Use Among Youths   In 2002, according to SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 8 million youths (33 percent) aged 12 to 17 attended religious services 25 times or more in the past year.  More than 78 percent of youths (19 million) reported that religious beliefs are a very important part of their lives and 69 percent (17 million) reported that religious beliefs influence how they make decisions.  Youth 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. 

The NSDUH Report:  Availability of Illicit Drugs Among Youths  In 2002, males and females aged 12 to 17 were equally likely (55%) to report that obtaining marijuana would be easy. However, female youths were more likely than males to report it would be easy to obtain crack (32% vs. 21%), cocaine (29% vs. 21%), LSD (23% vs. 16%) and heroin (17% vs. 13%).  About 29% of the youths who had been approached by someone selling drugs in the month before the survey had used marijuana in the past month compared with 4% of those not approached by a drug seller. 

 The NSDUH Report:  Marijuana Use and Delinquent Behaviors Among Youths Based on SAMHSA's 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the percentages of youths engaging in delinquent behaviors rose with increasing frequency of marijuana use. In 2002, more than 5 million youths engaged in serious fighting at school or work and almost 4 million took part in a group-against-group fight in the past year. Over half (57%) of those who used marijuana 300 or more days in the past year reported that they also sold illegal drugs.

The DAWN Report:  Marijuana-related Emergency Department Visits by Youth (PDF format)  According to SAMHSA's Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), marijuana is the most frequently reported drug in emergency department (ED) visits related to drug abuse in youth age 12 to 19.   However, marijuana-related ED visits have been increasing much faster than drug-related visits overall, with increases evident in every age group. 

The NHSDA Report:  Racial and Ethnic Differences in Youth Hallucinogen Use   Based on SAMHSA's National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, in 2001 almost 1.4 million youth aged 12 to 17 had used hallucinogens at least once in their lifetime.  Among youth, Blacks were less likely than whites, Asians, or Hispanics to have used any hallucinogen in their lifetime.  Blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites and Asians to perceive great risk in trying LSD once or twice.  See

The NHSDA Report:  School Experiences and Substance Use Among Youths Students aged 12 to 17 with positive school experiences were less likely to have used alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year than students without these positive school experiences.  The youth with positive school experiences were those who enjoyed going to school, who felt that their assigned schoolwork was meaningful, or who felt that the things they learned in school were going to be important later in life.  Also, the 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. 

The NSDUH Report:  Substance Use Among School Dropouts In 2002, approximately 3.2 million young adults aged 18 to 24 were considered to be school dropouts.  SAMHSA's 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health compared the rates of smoking, drinking, and illegal drug use among young adult school dropouts and non-dropouts. 

The NHSDA Report:  Alcohol Use by Persons Under the Legal Drinking Age of 21. SAMHSA's National Household Survey on Drug Abuse estimates that in 2001, about 10.1 million persons aged 12 to 20 used alcohol in the past month.  Nearly 3 million of this age group were dependent on or abused alcohol in the past year but only about 400,000 received any type of alcohol treatment in the past year.  Furthermore, nearly 3 million persons aged 16 to 20 were estimated to have driven under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year. 

Youth Substance Use:  State Estimates from the 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse

The NHSDA Report:   Low Rates of Alcohol Use Among Asian Youths Asian youths were less likely to have used alcohol during the past year than Hispanic, white, or American Indian/Alaska Native youths.   Filipino youths were more likely to have used alcohol during the past year than Chinese or Asian Indian youths.  See

The NHSDA Report:  Substance Abuse or Dependence in Metropolitan and Non-Metropolitan Areas Youths, aged 12 to 17 living in non-metropolitan areas were more likely than youths in metropolitan areas to abuse or be dependent on alcohol or illicit drugs during the past year.  

In 2000, over 3 million youths aged 12 to 17 used marijuana at least once during the past year.  See The NHSDA Report:  Marijuana Use Among Youths

The NHSDA Report:  Binge Drinking Among Underage Persons In 2000, almost 7 million persons aged 12 to 20 (under the legal drinking age) was a binge drinker.  The rate of binge drinking among underage persons (19 percent) was almost as high as among adults aged 21 or older (21 percent).  Underage persons who reported binge drinking were 7 times more likely to report illicit drugs during the past month than underage persons who did not binge drink. See

In 2000, more than 2 million youths aged 12 to 17 reported using inhalants at least once in their lifetime.  See The NHSDA Report:  Inhalant Use Among Youths

American Indian/Alaska Native youths aged 12 to 17 were more likely than youths from other racial/ethnic groups to smoke cigarettes during the past month.   See The NHSDA Report: Cigarette Use Among American Indian/Alaska Native Youths

Youths who were past month users of both cigarettes and alcohol were more than twice as likely to have used illicit drugs than youths who used only cigarettes or only alcohol.  See The NHSDA Report:  Illicit Drug Use Among Youths Who Used Cigarettes and Alcohol.

This page was last updated on April 06, 2009.