Going through high school can be challenging for many teenagers in a variety of ways.

It’s a time of rapid change, peer pressure, and the fear of missing out.

Not to mention each individual is changing in their own ways mentally and emotionally.

Curiosity amongst teenagers is nothing new, but it’s essential that curiosity doesn’t lead down a negative path.

Drugs are relatively common in school nowadays, particularly in high school amongst teenagers.

In addition, some drug-addicted teenagers will face catastrophic repercussions from their choices.

This guide will go deep into teenage drug use statistics and facts surrounding drug abuse in American high schools.

Key Teenage Drug Use Statistics 2024

  • 37% of high school teens have smoked marijuana
  • 4% of high school teens have taken cocaine
  • 7% of high school teens have taken LSD
  • 6.9% of teens use Adderall
  • 11% of seniors use prescription drugs
  • 60% of teens say they drink

How Common is Teen Drug Abuse?

Drug and alcohol misuse among teenagers is quite prevalent.

Furthermore, around the time teens reach senior year in high school, about half of all teenagers in the U.S. have experimented with illegal substances.

Teens who have depression, social anxiety, emotional instability, a background of maltreatment, or a history of drug abuse within their own families are more prone to abuse drugs at a young age.

Those who have little parental monitoring or connection with their family or who feel like outsiders from their friends tend to also be at risk of substance abuse. 

High school for any teenager is an extraordinarily difficult and hectic time in one’s life, with the pressure of succeeding at an all-time high.

Many kids are preparing for college and the requirements that need to be met, or they’re focused on a particular profession by taking more challenging coursework.

Both parents and instructors put pressure on their children to earn high grades, perform well on admission examinations, and excel in other activities outside of school as well. 

Teens who are overburdened with schoolwork and all of the included expectations may turn to substances to increase their performance and attention.

They may also abuse other drugs to help with insomnia when they are stressed.

When used without a prescription, many of these associated medicines can lead to an addictive personality and have serious health consequences in the long term.

Teenage Drug Use Statistics in 2024

Of course, not all teenagers use drugs, but the majority of them know someone who is a user and where to get it.

The availability of drugs is increasing as well, with it becoming easier to find over time.

According to the most recent teenage drug use statistics, approximately 20% of teenagers in high school have been given, sold, or provided illegal substances on school grounds in the last year alone.

Below is a short bullet list of some of the most common teenage drug use statistics in 2024.

  • Almost 37% of teens in high school have smoked marijuana in the past.
  • Approximately 4% of teens in high school have ever taken cocaine.
  • Roughly 7% have taken hallucinogens that include PCP and LSD.
  • 6.9% of high school seniors report abusing Adderall.
  • 10% of teens in high school with As are marijuana users, compared to those with D’s or F’s at 48%.

Marijuana is the most often overused drug among American teenagers.

It’s also now widely accessible to many high school kids, thanks to the legalization of marijuana and cannabis products in several states across the U.S.

At the same time, adolescent perceptions of the risks of marijuana usage or the possibility of marijuana addiction have declined and aren’t as much of a concern among teens.

Marijuana usage among teenagers has held stable over the last few years; however, many are increasingly now vaping marijuana which comes with additional unknown risks that didn’t exist before.

Although marijuana is a hot topic, the abuse of pills and pharmaceuticals is of even more significant concern.

Prescription drugs are the most widely misused substances among teenagers, behind marijuana, cigarettes, and alcohol.

The most often misused pharmaceuticals by minors include sedatives, ADHD medication, opioid pain relievers, and even tranquilizers.

It’s a prevalent misconception that consuming prescription medicines is less dangerous than utilizing illicit narcotics.

That is not correct. Prescription medicine abuse can be extremely harmful, even fatal.

Thankfully, many teens aren’t too interested in using harder drugs.

This isn’t to say it isn’t happening at all, but the numbers are far lower in comparison to substances such as marijuana.

Non-medical use of prescription medicines, particularly painkillers such as opiates, has dropped among teens in the last few years. 

Approximately 11% of seniors in high school report abusing prescription medicines within the previous year.

However, when it comes to the overuse of opioids, in particular, the figure is only 4%.

Over-the-Counter Drug Abuse

Over-the-Counter Drug Abuse

Teens frequently misuse over-the-counter drugs used for coughs and colds.

Approximately 5% of surveyed students in eighth grade admitted to misusing OTC drugs in the previous year.

The active component in these drugs, dextromethorphan, induces hyperactivity and sometimes hallucinations.

It also causes an increase in the body’s blood pressure and heart rate. It might produce feelings of dizziness and disorientation.

Indeed, there are harder drugs to be worried about, but the ease of access is the most significant concern here.

For some individuals, it’s the first resort, and for some, they see it as a last resort if something else isn’t available.

Not much is needed to purchase these products, and there’s generally always a supply in stores.

Many teenagers can purchase these products themselves, and they can also be easily found in many homes if the parents are buying these products. 

Other Drugs Used By Teens

Almost one-quarter of U.S. students use at least one form of illegal substance.

Many people take multiple types of drugs and combine them with nicotine, alcohol, or both.

Aside from marijuana, there are other and much more dangerous drugs being found across the country.

The following is a list of drugs that have been discovered to be utilized by teens across the United States.

  • Inhalants 
  • Salvia
  • Cough medicine
  • Ecstasy
  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Hallucinogens
  • LSD

Many of these drugs can cause much more damaging effects to the body and create strong addiction habits early on.

Considering being a teenager is one of the developmental stages of life for the human brain, this can cause irreversible and long-lasting damage. 

Drug addiction may also cause damage and deplete the brain of specific chemicals needed for proper functionality, such as healthy serotonin and dopamine levels.

This will cause high school students to experience extended depression and make them more vulnerable to behaviors that can be destructive to their own lives. 

Moreover, any type of substance addiction can have a significant detrimental influence on their performance in school.

Alcohol Abuse Among Teens


Alcohol and drug abuse can definitely be correlated from time to time, and over 60% of teenagers confess to having at least one alcoholic beverage.

One in every six teenagers confesses to what’s referred to as binge drinking at least once a month.

The act of binge drinking is categorized as consuming more than or at least five alcoholic drinks within the time frame of a few hours. 

Teen alcohol usage is linked to an increased risk of mortality and severe injury.

In addition, alcohol use raises the likelihood of violence, unprotected sex, as well as other risky behaviors among teens.

The abuse of alcohol could impact the development of the brain of a developing adolescent. 

Alcohol is the most often abused substance among teens in high school in the United States.

Furthermore, data shows it tends to be the most damaging, with underage alcohol consumption accounting for 119,000 ER visits and 4,300 fatalities among individuals that are under 21.

Below are a handful of relevant alcohol abuse statistics among teens in the United States over the last two years.

Teen Alcohol Abuse Statistics

  • 6% of teens surveyed said they drove a motor vehicle after drinking
  • 58.5% of senior students have experimented with alcohol.
  • 30% of those surveyed drank in the previous month.
  • 16% were a passenger in a car with someone who had been drinking prior to operating the vehicle

How to Prevent Drug Abuse Among Teens 


It starts with the closest people around you.

Reports show that half of the prescription drugs abused are acquired from either a close friend or even a family member.

As a parent, it’s crucial to inform teenagers that this isn’t okay and can be extremely dangerous.

Moreover, teenagers who have been educated about drugs and the potential ramifications are 50% less likely ever to get involved.

It’s not uncommon for a teenager’s curiosity to lead them to trouble, and this is why it’s vital to be informed.


Teenage drug use statistics in the United States have varied throughout the years, but it’s clear that more drugs are becoming more commonplace and easier to find.

Aside from hot topics such as marijuana, alcohol, and opioids, about 25% of teenagers use nicotine as an alternative which isn’t much better.

It’s interesting to see that even though this is the case, many teenagers still have no interest in participating regardless of social pressure and accessibility.

Nevertheless, it’s crucial that they continue to be educated about the realities of drugs, alcohol, including nicotine, and the damages that come along with them. 


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