Teen Drug and Alcohol Statistics 2014/2015

These 2014/2015 statistics about teen substance abuse tell only part of the story: Behind each statistic lies a devastated family, medical, financial and psychological ordeals, car accidents, lost jobs, derailed college experiences, incarceration and sometimes death by accident, homicide, overdose or suicide.


  • The 2014 Monitoring the Future Survey (MTF) survey showed that past month use of smoked marijuana remained steady among eighth graders at 6.5 percent, 10th graders at 16.6 percent and 12th graders at 21.2 percent. (1)

  • Close to 6 percent of 12th graders report daily use of marijuana. (1)

  • Compared with teens who don’t use, students who smoke marijuana tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of high school.(2)

  • A recent study followed people from age 13 to 38 and found that those who used marijuana a lot in their teens had up to an 8 point drop in IQ, even if they quit in adulthood. (2)

  • High school seniors who smoke marijuana are 2 times more likely to receive a traffic ticket and 65% more likely to get into an accident than those who don’t smoke. (2)

  • A growing number of high school seniors do not think occasional marijuana smoking is harmful, with only 16.4 percent saying occasional use puts the user at great risk. Five years ago, 27.4 of high school seniors thought occasional marijuana smoking is harmful. (1)

  • Research shows that about 9 percent (or about 1 in 11) of those who use marijuana will become addicted. This rate increases to 17 percent (or about 1 in 6) of those who start in their teens, and goes up to 25 to 50 percent among daily users. (2)

Synthetic Marijuana/K2/Spice

  • Spice use among youth is second only to marijuana. 5.8 percent of 12th graders reported using spice this year. (1)

  • Between January and May 2015, Poison Control Centers reported 3,572 calls related to synthetic marijuana use, a 229 percent increase from the 1,085 calls during the same period last year. Spice abusers who have been taken to Emergency Rooms report symptoms including rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, reduced blood supply to the heart, vomiting, agitation, confusion and hallucinations. (3)


  • Alcohol use continues its gradual decline in all grades surveyed by the Monitoring the Future survey. Eighth, 10th and 12th graders reported past month use of 9.0, 23.5 and 37.4 percent respectively. (1)

  • Nearly 1 in 5 high school seniors report binge drinking (5 or more drinks in a short period of time) within the past two weeks, and 21% of 9th through 12th graders reported binge drinking in the past 30 days. (1)

  • Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and about a quarter of those crashes involve an underage drinking driver. (3)

  • After alcohol, marijuana is the drug most often linked to car accidents, including those involving deaths. (2)

Prescription medications and other mood-altering substances

  • Past year use of narcotics (which includes all opioid pain relievers except heroin) was reported by 6.1 percent of high school seniors, compared with 7.1 percent a year ago. (1)

  • Past year non-medical use of the stimulant Adderall (often prescribed for ADHD) remained relatively steady over the past year, at 6.8 percent for high school seniors. (1)

  • The use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) is high among teens. Past-month use by eighth graders is 8.7 percent, for 10th graders is 16.2 percent, and for 12th graders is 17.1 percent. (1)

  • Past year use of MDMA (also known as Ecstasy or Molly) saw a decline among 10th graders to 2.3 percent, down from 3.6 percent in 2013. (1)

The cost of drug/alcohol use and abuse

  • Drug overdoses now cause more deaths than traffic accidents. (3)

  • Every day, 44 people in the U.S. die from overdose of prescription painkillers. More people die from abusing prescription pain relievers than cocaine and heroin combined. (3)

  • The number of overdose deaths caused by prescription painkillers alone quadrupled between 1999 and 2010. (4)

  • In 2013, nearly two million Americans abused prescription painkillers. Each day, almost 7,000 people are treated in emergency departments for using these drugs in a manner other than as directed. (3)

  • Addiction nearly always originates during adolescence. Ninety percent of those who are currently addicted began using alcohol and other drugs before the age of 18. The younger a person is when they have their first drink or drug, the more likely it is that they will become dependent on drugs or alcohol. (2)

  • In 2005, the most recent year for which the data were calculated, societal costs from alcohol and other drugs were $416 billion: $43.6 billion in health care, $73.8 billion in criminal justice and $299 billion in lost productivity. This figure does not include a family’s expenses for counseling, rehab, theft or car crashes, or the incalculable cost of a family’s despair or the loss of a child. (5)

++Statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Shatterproof.org, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

  1. 2014 Monitoring the Future report, a national survey of approximately 50,000 8th, 10th and 12th grade students
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  3. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  4. Shatterproof.org
  5. CASA Columbia.org