teens drug statistics

10 Statistics On Teen Drug and Alcohol Use

Published on: September 28, 2019   |   Last updated on:

Teen Drug Statistics Are Often Misunderstood by Teens Themselves.

Here are 10 statistics about teen drug abuse – updated June 2021.

  1. 31% of 12th graders have not used any substances in their lifetime. [1]
  2. Youth who start drinking before age 15 are 7 times more likely to develop alcohol use disorders as adults than those who wait until after age 18. [2]
  3. Risky substance use and addiction is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and in most cases, it begins in the teen years. [3]
  4. 71% of 8th graders disapprove of people who smoke marijuana occasionally. [2]
  5. 63% of high school seniors disapprove of the regular use of marijuana. [2]
  6. More than 90,000 Americans died of an overdose in 2020. Addiction is more likely to start in the teen years that’s why delayed first-time use is so important. [4]
  7. Early initiation of drinking is associated with the development of an alcohol use disorder later in life. [5]
  8.  After first trying cannabis or misusing prescription drugs, the percentages of young people who develop the corresponding substance use disorder are higher among adolescents (ages 12-17) than young adults (ages 18-25). [6]
  9. Underage drinking contributes to the 3 leading causes of death (unintentional injury, homicide, and suicide) among persons aged 12 to 20 years. [7]
  10. Early-onset of regular marijuana use among adolescents is linked to a decline in IQ and is associated with educational dropout. [8]
  11. The DEA has reported that more than 4 in 10 pills are laced with the fentanyl. [9]


Teens who consistently learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t.[9] 

There’s a chance that even with all the education and support you offer them, your child may try drugs or alcohol.

teen substance abuse statistics

One of the keys is to delay that first-time use for as long as possible.

9 out of 10 people with addiction started in their teen years. Research shows the average age of first-time use of drugs is 13-14. If first-time use is delayed by 12-24 months, the likelihood of addiction drops dramatically. [10] 

Youth are 6.5 times more likely to become addicted if they try drugs before age 21. [10] 

Start your conversation with the tween or teen in your life. We’ve got 8 conversation starters you can help with your conversations here.

Get to know these important teen drug abuse statistics, set your teen up for a life addiction-free, and access our resources for free now!

NaturalHigh.org offers easy, effective, and fun ways for a community of educators, mentors, and parents to deliver these protective measures in a relevant way for today.

We have identified a series of protective measures, what we call the six principles of Natural High. We teach these in a language our youth understand: through the art of storytelling.

Each week we send out short, content-rich articles on the most important topics parents and educators need to know about in order to guide their kids to a thriving life. They include digestible and relevant research plus actionable exercises and activities you can implement. If you’d like to receive the Natural High Essentials, just click here or sign up below.


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