Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse 2002 | CASAColumbia

National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse VII: Teens, Parents and Siblings

National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse VII: Teens, Parents and Siblings

Published: August 2002

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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 541 parents, of whom 317 were parents of the teens we interviewed.


This teen survey assessed the impact of siblings on the likelihood of teen drug abuse. The most striking teen drug abuse statistics were:

  • For the first time, a majority of teens (63%) said they attended drug-free schools
  • Siblings had a major impact on substance abuse risk; in fact, teens who said their older brothers or sisters would have been “very angry” to find out they used marijuana were at a substantially lower risk of teen drug abuse than those whose older siblings would not have been very angry
  • Among all teens who admitted to smoking, drinking or having tried marijuana, 95% had smoked their first cigarette, 93% had tried their first drink and 86% had tried their first joint by 15 years of age
  • For the seventh survey in a row, teens continued to say drugs were their biggest concern
  • For the first time, a higher percentage of teens surveyed found marijuana easier to buy than either cigarettes or beer

Other important teen drug abuse statistics highlighted in the report include the prevalence of drugs in schools and drug use in the early teen years.

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