Alcohol and substance abuse are a growing problem for young people in almost every country, with millions of teenagers and young adults worldwide turning to drugs and alcohol each year. This problem in the United States, especially as a result of the COVID pandemic, is at a crisis level and one that impacts our young people’s mental and emotional health, as well as their social, personal, and academic lives. The easy availability of drugs and alcohol, as well as the societal beliefs that drinking and drug use is a rite of passage, have facilitated the spread of this problem.
Statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) show that approximately 50% of high school students have used some kind of illicit substance by the time they graduate. Across the United States, it is estimated that 9% of all adolescents and teenagers aged 12-17 report using one or more illicit drugs in any given month. Additionally, 14% report using e-cigarettes. Statistics from 2019 indicate that approximately 53% of high school students have consumed alcohol, with 40% of those reporting the use of alcohol in any given month. Possibly more frightening is the fact that in any given year, between 17% and 25% of teenagers report they have knowingly ridden in a car with a drunk driver. Every year, over 3,500 young people under the age of 21 die due to alcohol-related car crashes, homicides, alcohol poisoning, drowning and suicide. That amounts to over 210,000 years of potential life lost among our young adults.
Prevalence of Binge Drinking, Tobacco Use, Marijuana Use, and Other Drug Use
- 62.0% of 12th graders report having used alcohol at some point during the past year
- 35.3% of 12th graders report drinking alcohol within the last 30 days.
- 37.7% of 12th graders report being drunk at least once in the last year.
- 17.2% of 12th graders report engaging in binge drinking (having 5 or more drinks in a short period of time) in the last two weeks.
- 34.9% of 12th graders report using marijuana in the last year.
- 23.6% of 12th graders report using illicit drugs in the last year.
- 21.3% of 12th graders report using marijuana in the last 30 days.
- 7.7% of 12th graders report non-medical use of amphetamines in the last year.
- 7.5% of 12th graders report non-medical use of Adderall in the last year.2
- By 12th grade, almost 50% of all teenagers have tried illegal drugs.
- 29% drank alcohol.
- 14% binge drank.