Teens & Young Adults

Teen and Youth Addiction Statistics and Demographics

Alcohol and drug use across the nation is a problem among all age groups, including teens, adolescents, and young adults. Teens, like adults, use a wide range of illegal drugs and prescription medications including tranquilizers, Xanax, Ritalin, LSD, marijuana, alcohol, and other drugs recreationally. Unfortunately, many teens who engage in teenage and young adult substance use will go on to develop a substance use disorder. The following statistics and demographics from The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics provide a snapshot of some of these dangerous and concerning trends.

General Teen Drug Use Statistics in the U.S.

  • 1 in 8 teens report abusing an illicit drug in the past year
  • 86% of teens know someone who drinks, smokes, or abuses drugs during school
  • 50% of teens report misusing drugs at least one time
  • 62% of teens have abused alcohol by their senior year in high school
  • 43% of college students use one or more illegal drugs
  • In 2019, there were 4,777 overdose deaths among teenagers (1,459 females & 3,315 males)
  • 2.08 million teens reported drug use in the last month
  • 8.7% of teens in eighth grade report using illicit drugs in the last month
  • 21.3% of eighth-graders have tried an illegal drug at least once
  • 46.6% of all teens report that by grade 12 they have used illegal drugs
  • 11.2% of all overdose deaths were individuals between 15 and 24 years of age

Teens and Young Adult Alcohol Use Statistics in the U.S.

  • 7.10 million young adults between the ages of 12 to 20 years old report consuming alcohol in the last month
  • 1.9 million youth between the ages of 12 and 17 years report binge drinking in the last month
  • 11.72 million youth between the ages of 18 to 25 years report binge drinking in the last month
  • 2.7% of teens in grade 12 drink alcohol daily
  • 16.8% of twelfth graders report drinking five or more drinks in a row when consuming alcohol
  • 407,000 youth between the ages of 12 and 17 meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder (AUD)

Specific Drug Use Statistics For Youth 12 to 17 Years of Age in the U.S.

  • Twice as many 12 to 17 year-olds meet the criteria for an illicit drug use disorder (IDUD) than for AUD
  • 788,000 teens aged 12 to 17 met the criteria for an IDUD in the past year
  • 12.78% of teens aged 12 to 17 years report using marijuana in the last year
  • 7.5% of teens have abused hallucinogens
  • 7.0% of teens in grade 12 have abused tranquilizers
  • 5.9% of youth aged 12 to17 have used LSD
  • 2.52% of this same age group report misusing prescription drug painkillers
  • 0.42% have tried cocaine
  • 0.17% have used methamphetamines
  • 0.02% have used heroin

12th Grade Marijuana Use Statistics in the U.S.

  • Nearly 7% of youth in the grade 12 report using marijuana daily
  • 2.4% have tried synthetic marijuana (spice)
  • 12th graders are 82.1% more likely to try marijuana than smoke a cigarette
  • 43.7% of this same age group have tried marijuana
  • 35.2% have taken marijuana in some form during the last year
  • 62.8% of the twelfth graders who use marijuana consume it by vaping

Teen and Youth Opioid Use Statistics in the U.S.

  • Amongst 15 to 24 year-olds, overdose death from opioids has increased by 500% since 1999
  • 5.3% of youth in grade 12 have abused opioids other than heroin at least once
  • 2.4% of this same age group have abused OxyContin
  • 1.2% have abused Vicodin

General Demographics for Youth and Teen Substance Abuse in the U.S.

  • Teens and young adults use alcohol and marijuana more than other illicit substances
  • Teens and young adults in Western states and the New England area are most likely to have engaged in drug use in the last past month
  • Teens between 12 and 17 in the District of Columbia are more likely to have used harder drugs and suffer from IDUD
  • Youth ages 12 to 17 in the D.C. area are more likely to suffer from AUD
  • Youth in Montana have the highest rates of AUD
  • Youth in Vermont have the highest rates of IDUD
  • 18 to 25 year-olds in Vermont are 60.1% more likely to abuse alcohol than their counterparts in other states

Youth drug use and abuse is a leading public health concern. Educating young people, parents, teachers, and other caregivers involved with this age group is of paramount importance in order to help slow this dangerous, life-threatening trend.

If you are a teen or young adult and think you may need help—or if you are the parent or guardian of a teen with a substance use problem—contact Caron today. Caron offers custom substance abuse treatment programs for teen drug use, alcohol abuse, and other addictions and co-occurring mental health problems. Our treatment facilities offer in- and outpatient drug use and alcohol addiction care. Call 1-800-854-6023 today.

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