Drug Use: What You Need to Know

Turn on the TV or log onto the Internet and you’re bombarded by advertising for drugs. While most of these ads are for prescription drugs, they’re creating a culture that says we need drugs to lead better lives. Today, kids not only abuse illicit drugs (such as marijuana and cocaine), they’re also using over-the-counter medication, prescription drugs, and common household items that can produce a high. Kids easily have access to the medical cabinet in their homes, and they’re more apt to share prescription drugs (even though it’s illegal to do so) in order to get to an altered state.

Did You Know?

  • Only 34 percent of teens think smoking marijuana once a month is a great risk.1
  • As kids get older, they view using cocaine, heroin, and LSD as a greater risk. The opposite is true about their views of marijuana. Forty-three percent of 12- to 13-year-olds think it’s risky to use marijuana, but only 26 percent of 16- to 17-year-olds agree.1
  • Guys (18%) are slightly more likely to use illicit drugs compared to girls (15%).2
  • As kids get older, they’re more likely to use drugs. Only 2 percent of sixth graders use illicit drugs compared to twenty-nine percent of 12th graders.2
  • If you can encourage your child to get through age 21 without using drugs, abusing alcohol, or smoking cigarettes, they’re most likely never to abuse these substances.3
In addition, kids who have more Developmental Assets are more likely to not abuse drugs.7 While 38 percent of young people with 10 Developmental Assets or fewer use illicit drugs, only 1 percent of young people with 31 to 40 assets do. Developmental Assets also play an important role in the prevention of other high-risk behaviors including early sexual activity, bullying, and depression7.
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    1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies, The NSDUH Report: Perceptions of Risk from Substance Use among Adolescents, Rockville, Maryland, November 26, 2009, 2.

    2. Search Institute, Developmental Assets: A Profile of Your Youth, Executive Summary, (Minneapolis: Search Institute, 2005), unpublished report, 22.

    3. Joseph A. Califano, Jr., How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid (New York: Fireside, 2009), xx, research based on 20 years of studies by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.