Health >> Substance Use Among Teens

Current Substance Use Among Teens

Substance use among teens has declined since 2004.

In a survey of Washington public school students, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders were asked about whether they had used illicit substances including alcohol, marijuana, painkillers, or other illegal drugs in the past 30 days (current substance use). For 2014 and 2016 combined, 24% of students reported having used one or more substances in the past 30 days.

Trends: Overall, rates of substance use among teens have declined, from 32% in 2004 to 24% in 2016. During this time period, rates also declined within all racial and ethnic groups and regions.

Race and ethnicity: Asian students (14%) were less likely than average to report substance use, while Hispanic/Latino students (31%) were more likely to report substance use. Among 10th and 12th graders, American Indian/Alaska Native students were also more likely to report substance use (data not shown).

Grade level: Rates of substance use went up with grade level. While only 9% of 8th graders reported substance use, 24% of 10th graders and 39% of 12th graders reported substance use in the past month.

Sexual orientation:  In 2016, at 37%, lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) students were more likely than the King County average to report substance use. There were no significant differences between boys and girls, or between regions.

Current Substance Use Among Teens: Notes & Sources

Source: Healthy Youth Survey. Unless otherwise noted, data are from 2014-2016.

Numerator: Students who responded with anything more than “0 days” to any component of the question "In the past 30 days, on how many days did you: Drink a glass, can, or bottle of alcohol (beer, wine, wine coolers, hard liquor)? Use marijuana or hashish (weed, has, pot)? Not counting alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana, use another illegal drug? Use a pain killer TO GET HIGH, like Vicodin, OxyContin (sometimes called Oxy or OC) or Percocet (sometimes called Percs)?”

Denominator: All students who answered the question.

Every 2 years, Washington public school students in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades students answer questions about safety and violence, physical activity and diet, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, and related risk and protective factors. To learn more about the survey, please go to https://www.doh.wa.gov/DataandStatisticalReports/DataSystems/HealthyYouthSurvey.