Child Health USA 2006
Photographs of children's faces

Health Status > Adolescents


Prevalence. In 2004, 10.6 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years reported using illicit drugs in the past month. The use of illicit drugs within the past month increased with age. Among those aged 12 to 13 years, 3.8 percent reported past-month use, compared to 10.9 percent of those aged 14 to 15 years and 17.3 percent of those aged 16 to 17 years. Rates of pastmonth illicit drug use were similar among non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic adolescents (ranging from 9.3 to 11.1 percent); American Indian/Alaska Native adolescents had the highest rate of past-month use (26.0 percent), while Asian adolescents had the lowest (6.0 percent).

Alcohol is the most commonly used drug among adolescents, with 17.6 percent reporting past-month use in 2004. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug (7.6 percent), followed by the nonmedical use of psychotherapeutic drugs, such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, and stimulants (3.6 percent). Marijuana use is more common among male adolescents than their female counterparts (8.1 versus 7.1 percent), while prescription drug abuse is more common among females (4.1 versus 3.2 percent).

In 2004, 47.5 percent of adolescents who smoked cigarettes in the past month also used an illicit drug, compared to only 5.6 percent of those who didnít smoke. Among those adolescents who both smoked cigarettes and used alcohol, 58.8 percent also used an illicit drug.

Perception of Risk and Access to Drugs. In 2004, 35.0 percent of adolescents perceived smoking marijuana once a month to be a great risk, while 49.6 percent perceived the same risk regarding cocaine use. Smoking one or more packs of cigarettes a day was considered a great risk by 67.5 percent of adolescents, which represented a significant increase over the past year (from 64.2 percent). Drinking five or more drinks on one or two occasions per week was considered to be a great risk by 40.9 percent of adolescents.

In 2004, 52.2 percent of adolescents reported that marijuana would be fairly or very easy to obtain. The same was reported by 24.4 percent of teens regarding cocaine, 16.9 percent for LSD, and 14.0 percent for heroin. Just over 16 percent of adolescents reported being approached by someone selling drugs in the past month.


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Child Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Child Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.