According to several national studies, most U.S. adolescents will engage in some form of substance use by the time they graduate from high school. However, more research is needed to identify patterns of substance use and abuse.
Scientists in the Health Behavior Branch (HBB) of the NICHD Division of Intramural Population Health Research used the NEXT study, a nationally representative sample of more than 2,500 U.S. adolescents in the 10th grade to assess patterns of substance use. About 29% of these adolescents reported using any illicit drugs in the past year. Within the past year, 26% used marijuana, 9% misused prescription medication, and 8% used other illicit drugs (e.g., ecstasy, amphetamine, cocaine, anabolic steroids, or glue/solvents). During the past month, 35% reported alcohol use, 27% binge drank, and 19% smoked cigarettes.
Four groups of teens were identified from the data (PMID: 23465320).