Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse 2012 | Center on Addiction

National Survey on American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens

National Survey on American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens

Published: August 2012

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This survey aims to identify the situations, individual and family characteristics, and social factors that are associated with teen drug abuse and addiction. Its primary purpose is to track attitudes of teens and those, like parents, who have the greatest influence on whether teens will smoke, drink, get drunk, use illegal drugs, or abuse prescription drugs.

CASAColumbia’s teen surveys have consistently found that the family is fundamental to keeping children away from tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs. Teen drug abuse plays a major role in addiction. People who do not use tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs or misuse prescription drugs before age 21 are virtually certain never to do so. This report outlines several teen drug abuse facts and teen drug abuse statistics.


On behalf of CASAColumbia, QEV Analytics, a national public opinion research firm, conducted a nationally representative telephone-based survey of 1,003 teens, ages 12 to 17.


The survey found that 86% of American high school students said that some classmates drink, use drugs and smoke during the school day. Additionally, 44% of high school students knew a student who sold drugs at their school. Asked what drugs students sold on school grounds, 91% said marijuana, 24% said prescription drugs, 9% said cocaine and 7% said ecstasy.

The survey also revealed that 52% of high school students said that there was a place on school grounds or near school where students can go to use drugs, drink  or smoke during the school day, and 36% said it was easy for students to use drugs, drink or smoke during the school day without getting caught.

75% of 12-to-17-year-olds said that seeing pictures of teens partying with alcohol or marijuana on Facebook, MySpace or another social networking site encouraged other teens to want to party like that. 45% of teens have seen pictures on social networking sites of other teens getting drunk, passed out or using drugs, and 47% of teens who have seen these pictures said that it seemed like the teens in the pictures were having a good time.

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