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    Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse 2010

    Published: August 2010

    This survey aims to identify the situations, individual and family characteristics, and social factors that are associated with teen drug abuse and addiction. Its primary purpose is to track attitudes of teens and those, like parents, who have the greatest influence on whether teens will smoke, drink, get drunk, use illegal drugs or abuse prescription drugs.

    Key Takeaways

    CASAColumbia’s teen surveys have consistently found that the family is fundamental to keeping children away from tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs. Teen drug abuse plays a major role in addiction. People who do not use tobacco, alcohol or illegal substances or intentionally misuse prescription drugs before age 21 are virtually certain never to do so.

    This report looks at teen substance use statistics, such as substances in middle schools and the role family plays in teen substance use. Twenty-seven percent of public school students ages 12 to 17 said that their school was both gang- and drug-infected (drugs are used, kept or sold on school grounds). Compared to teens who attended gang-activity-free and drug-free schools, teens who attended schools infected with both gang activity and drugs were:

    • 5 times likelier to have used marijuana,
    • 3 times likelier to have used alcohol,
    • almost 12 times likelier to have used tobacco,
    • 3 times likelier to be able to get marijuana within an hour or less,
    • 5 times likelier to get it within a day or less and
    • nearly 5 times likelier to know a classmate who uses illegal substances like acid, ecstasy, methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin.

    The survey also exposed a vast difference between public schools and private or religious schools, revealing that 46 percent of teens at public schools reported that there were gangs in their school, compared to 2 percent of teens at private or religious schools.

    Research Methods

    Knowledge Networks, an international online research organization, conducted a nationally representative, Internet-based survey of 1,055 teens, ages 12 to 17, and 456 parents of these teens. In addition, QEV Analytics, a national public opinion research firm, conducted a nationally-representative telephone-based survey of 1,000 teens, ages 12 to 17, asking questions that we have used to measure trends over time.

    Last Updated

    November 2023