Most Commonly Used Drugs By Adolescents

alcohol and the signs of alcoholismAs a parent or guardian of a teenager, you probably have many worries concerning the safety and well-being of your child. One of these concerns is teenage substance use. Teens use drugs for a variety of reasons–to experiment, to fit in, or to improve their performance in school or in sports.Research shows that the earlier adolescents begin using drugs, the more serious, long-term consequences they may experience such as increased potential for life-long problems with addiction. Educate yourself about the drugs adolescents are most likely to use below.Overall, the use of illicit drugs by adolescents has shown significant declines in the past two decades. Still, results from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) 2014 Monitoring the Future survey on substance use and attitudes about drugs among adolescents in grades 8,10, and 12, the following substances were demonstrated as being most commonly abused by teens.


alcoholism can also be caused by excessive drinking of wineRates of alcohol use in teens have decreased since 2009. Nonetheless, 37.4% of 12th graders in the survey endorsed having used alcohol in the past month. Numbers were lower for the other grades (i.e. 10th graders= 23.5%; 8th graders= 9%).Keep your kids away from alcohol by staying involved in their lives. Know where they are going, who they are going out with, and the kind of activities they are engaging in. Also, being a positive role model in your child’s life can help limit the influence of peer pressure to use alcohol or drugs.


Reports from 2014 reveals stable rates of marijuana use, yet teens show declines in the perceived harmfulness of the substance. Marijuana use surpasses that of all other illicit substances, and even that of cigarette use among adolescents. Approximately one in five 12th graders admitted to using marijuana in the month prior to the survey; meanwhile, 6% of adolescents in this grade endorsed daily use. Synthetic marijuana is also used by adolescents and poses health risks since there is no regulation or consistency in other chemicals that may be in these drugs.

Not sure how to pinpoint marijuana use in your teenager? Be on the lookout for an unusually increased appetite in which there never seems to be enough food available. Other signs include lethargy, excessive use of gum or breath mints, inability to follow along in conversation, and burns on the thumbs or forefingers.

Prescription Drugs

Teens and the use of Prescription drugsBased on data from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, about 20% of teens admit to taking prescription drugs without a prescription. Many kids obtain narcotics such as OxyContin or tranquilizers like Xanax to manage their day-to-day lives. Adolescents also abuse amphetamines with the hopes of losing weight and steroid to add muscle mass.

Beware that your teen could be abusing pills found in your very own medicine cabinet, or the private stashes of friends or family members. On the other hand, some teens with legitimate health conditions that require prescriptions may sell or hand out extra pills to other teens at school. Be wary of your teen needing money for unexplained reasons. This money may be going towards an establishing dependency to prescription drugs.

Communicating with Your Teen

If you are concerned that your child may be at risk of substance abuse or hanging around kids that use drugs, it’s important to communicate with them.Early intervention for substance abuse is essential for the long-term health and well-being of your teen. Seek out a qualified alcohol or drug treatment center specially trained in helping adolescents to give your child the best chance at a brighter future.

    1. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, “Preventing Teen Abuse of Prescription Drugs Fact Sheet”, 2010,;
“Drug Facts: High School and Youth Trends”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, December 2014,;
  1. “Teenagers and Drugs”, Medline Plus, November 2014,

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