Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse 2005 | Center on Addiction

National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse X: Teens and Parents

National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse X: Teens and Parents

Published: August 2005

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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 1,000 teens, ages 12 to 17, and 829 parents, of whom 282 were parents of teens we interviewed.


Since 2002, the number of students who attended schools where drugs were used, kept or sold jumped 41% for high school students and 47% for middle school students. As of 2005, 62% of high school students and 28% of middle school students attended drug-infected schools, up from 44% of high school students and 19% of middle school students in 2002.

Additional teen drug abuse statistics highlighted in the survey included:

  • Teens who believed marijuana use by someone their age was “not morally wrong” were more than 19 times likelier to use it as those who considered such use “seriously morally wrong”
  • Teens who said their parents would be “a little upset” or “not upset at all” if they used marijuana were 6 times likelier to have tried marijuana than those whose parents would be “extremely upset”
  • Teens who considered marijuana to be “not too harmful” or “not harmful at all” were 8 times as likelier to try marijuana than those who considered marijuana “very harmful” to the health of someone their age
  • Most teens said that legal restrictions had no effect on their decision to smoke cigarettes (58%) or drink alcohol (54%), and nearly half said that illegality had no effect on their decision to use marijuana (48%) or LSD, cocaine and/or heroin (46%)

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