Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse 2012

    Published: August 2012

    This survey aims to identify the situations, individual and family characteristics, and social factors that are associated with teen drug use 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 substances or intentionally misuse prescription medications.

    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.

    Additional findings included the following:

    • 86% of American high school students said that some classmates drink, use drugs and smoke during the school day.
    • 44% of high school students knew a student who sold substances at their school.
    • Asked what substances students sold on school grounds, 91% said marijuana, 24% said prescription drugs, 9% said cocaine and 7% said ecstasy.
    • 52% of high school students said that there was a place on school grounds or near school where students can go to use drugs, drink or smoke during the school day.
    • 36% said it was easy for students to use drugs, drink or smoke during the school day without getting caught.
    • 75% of 12-to-17-year-olds said that seeing pictures of teens partying with alcohol or marijuana on Facebook, MySpace or another social networking site encouraged other teens to want to party like that.
    • 45% of teens have seen pictures on social networking sites of other teens getting drunk, passed out or using other substances.
    • 47% of teens who have seen these pictures said that it seemed like the teens in the pictures were having a good time.

    Research Methods

    On behalf of CASAColumbia, QEV Analytics, a national public opinion research firm, conducted a nationally representative telephone-based survey of 1,003 teens, ages 12 to 17.


    August 2012