Page last updated: September 26, 2012
National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens

According to the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens, the 17th annual back-to-school survey conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University 17% of American High school students use drugs, drink or smoke during the school day. QEV Analytics conducted The National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens from April 18 to May 17, 2012. The firm interviewed at home by telephone a national random sample of 1,003 12- to 17-year olds (493 boys, 510 girls.
The CASAColumbia survey revealed that 44% of high schoolers know a student who sells drugs at their school. Asked what drugs students sell on school grounds, 91% said marijuana; 24% prescription drugs; 9% said cocaine; and 7% ecstasy and 52% of high school students say that there is a place on school grounds or near school where students go to get high during the school day. 36% say it is easy for students to use drugs, drink or smoke during the school day without getting caught.
Social Networking: Digital Peer Pressure
This year’s survey took a closer look at teen social networking. 75% of 12- to 17-year olds say that seeing pictures of teens partying with alcohol or marijuana on Facebook, MySpace or another social networking site encourages other teens to want to party like that. 45% of teens (10.9 million) have seen pictures online of other teens getting drunk, passed out or using drugs. 47% of teens who have seen these pictures say that it seems like the teens in the pictures are having a good time.
Compared to teens who have not seen pictures on Facebook or another social networking site of kids getting drunk, passed out, or using drugs, teens who have seen such pictures are:
Four times more likely to have used marijuana;
More than three times more likely to have used alcohol; and
Almost three times more likely to have used tobacco.
“This year’s survey reveals a new kind of potent peer pressure—digital peer pressure. Digital peer pressure moves beyond a child’s friends and the kids they hang out with. It invades the home and a child’s bedroom via the Internet,” said Califano. “So parents should be aware of what their children are viewing on social networking sites. If their teens are seeing pictures of other teens partying with marijuana and alcohol, getting drunk or passed out, or using drugs, they may think it looks like fun and want to try it.”
Teens home alone overnight more likely to use substances
For the first time this year the survey asked 12- to 17-year olds if they are ever left alone without adult supervision overnight. Nearly one-third of teens (29%) say they have been left alone overnight.
Compared to teens who are never home alone overnight, those who are left home alone overnight are:
 Twice as likely to have used marijuana;
Almost twice as likely to have used alcohol; and
Almost three times as likely to have used tobacco.
Parental Disapproval and Teen Substance Use Attitudes
Parental expectations, particularly expressing strong disapproval of teen substance use, can be a decisive factor in a teen’s decision to drink alcohol, use drugs or smoke tobacco. Compared to teens who say that their parents would be extremely upset to find out that their child smokes, drinks or uses marijuana, those who say their parents would not be extremely upset are:
Eight and a half times as likely to say it’s okay for teens their age to use marijuana;
Ten times more likely to say it’s okay for teens their age to get drunk; and
Nine times more likely to say it’s okay for teens their age to smoke cigarettes.

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All text and images © 2003 Alcohol In Moderation.