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Teens and Drug Misuse

January 22, 2018
Published in: Children, Nurses Health Corner

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW), January 22-28, 2018, is a national health observance linking teens to science based facts to SHATTER THE MYTHS® about drugs! Over 18.5 million persons 12 and older have misused prescription drugs in the past year. When asked how they obtained prescription opioids, a majority of the 12th graders surveyed said they were given the drugs or they bought them from a friend or relative. These statistics are particularly worrisome as youth who misuse prescription medications are more likely to report use of other drugs.

Monitoring the Future is an annual survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders conducted by researchers at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, under a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health. Monitor the Future 2017 Survey Results:

  • 71.0 percent of high school seniors do not view regular marijuana smoking as being harmful, but 64.7 percent say they disapprove of regular marijuana smoking
  • Binge drinking rates for each grade: 8th grade: 3.7%, 10th grade: 9.8%, 12th graders: 16.6%
  • Nearly 1 in 3 students in 12th grade report past-year use of e-vaporizers in 2017, raising concerns about the impact on their long-term health. Many teens do not actually know what is in the device they are using, and even if they read the label, not all labeling is consistent or accurate.
  • Teens More Likely to Use Marijuana Than Cigarettes:
    • In its peak year (1997), daily cigarette use among 12th grades was 24.6 percent, compared to a rate of 4.2 percent in 2017
    • In its lowest year of use (1992), daily use of marijuana among 12th graders was 1.9 percent, compared to a rate of 5.9 percent in 2017
  • Past-year misuse of prescription/OTC drugs among 12th graders in 2017 were:
    • Adderall®: 5.5%
    • Tranquilizers: 4.7%
    • Opioids other than heroin: 4.2%
    • Cough/cold medicine: 3.2%
    • Sedatives: 2.9%
    • Ritalin®: 1.3%
  • Past-year use of illicit drugs among 12th graders in 2017 were:
    • Marijuana/hashish: 37.1%
    • Synthetic cannabinoids*: 3.7%
    • LSD: 3.3%
    • Cocaine: 2.7%
    • MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly): 2.6%
    • Inhalants: 1.5%
    • Heroin: 0.4%

Even among teens that do not use drugs, it is acknowledged that they are fairly easy to come by.

  • 29% of teens in grades 9 through 12 report that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property
  • 38.4% of teens in public schools report that drugs are readily available
  • 22.4% at private schools report drugs are readily available
  • 62.9% report that street gangs are present to sell the drugs

As a parent, teacher, grandparent, or concerned community member, how much do you really know about drug abuse? Test your knowledge by taking the interactive National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge quiz at

If you or someone you care about needs treatment for drug abuse, please call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or go to Valley Community Services Board offers emergency services (24/7). Go to or call (540) 885-0866, (540) 943-1590 or toll free (866) 274-7475.

Article provided by Dana Breeding, RN Health Educator with Community Outreach.


NIDA. (2017, December 14). Vaping popular among teens; opioid misuse at historic lows. Retrieved from on 2017, December 19.

NIDA. (2014, July 1). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Retrieved from on 2017, December 19.