Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse 2007 | CASAColumbia

National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XII: Teens and Parents

National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XII: Teens and Parents

Published: August 2007

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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.

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 drugs or misuse prescription drugs before age 21 are virtually certain never to do so. This report outlines several teen drug abuse facts and teen drug abuse statistics.


On behalf of CASAColumbia, QEV Analytics, a national public opinion research firm, conducted a nationally representative telephone-based survey of 1,063 teens, ages 12 to 17, and 550 parents of teens, of whom 292 were parents of teens we interviewed.


80% of surveyed high school students and 44% of surveyed middle school students said they have personally witnessed illegal drug use, illegal drug dealing, illegal drug possession, students drunk and/or students high on the grounds of their school. The survey also found that 31% of high school students and 9% of middle school students reported seeing illegal drugs used or sold at least once a week on their school grounds. 17% of surveyed high and middle school students said they personally see, at least weekly, classmates high on drugs at school.

The survey also revealed that compared to teens at drug-free schools, those at drug-infested schools were:

  • 16 times likelier to use an illegal drug other than marijuana or prescription drugs
  • 15 times likelier to abuse prescription drugs
  • 6 times likelier to get drunk at least monthly
  • 5 times likelier to use marijuana
  • 4 times likelier to smoke cigarettes
  • 4 times likelier to be able to buy marijuana within a day
  • Nearly 6 times likelier to be able to buy marijuana within an hour

The survey also found that popularity and drug-infected schools played a role in teen drug abuse. Parental attitudes also played a role in teen drug abuse.

A Note on the Language
In 2012, CASAColumbia stopped using words like “drug abuse”/“drug abuser” because the terms are imprecise and have negative connotations. Instead, we now distinguish between “addiction” (clinical criteria for the disease) and “risky use” (use of addictive substances in ways that increase the risk of harm but do not meet criteria for addiction). Some reports and other publications published prior to 2012 still contain this language.

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