Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse 2008 | CASAColumbia

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

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

Published: August 2008

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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 1,002 teens, ages 12 to 17, and 312 parents from the same households as teens we interviewed.


Problem parents—those who failed to monitor their children’s school-night activities, safeguard their own prescription drugs, address the problem of drugs in their children’s schools and set good examples—increased the risk that their 12-to-17-year-old children will smoke, drink, use illegal drugs and misuse prescription drugs. The survey also revealed that the later teens are out of the house hanging out with friends on school nights (Monday through Thursday), the likelier there is to be alcohol and/or drug use within that group of friends on those occasions.

46% of 12-to-17-year-olds reported leaving their houses to hang out with friends on school nights. Among these teens:

  • Of those who were typically out past 10:00 p.m., half (50%) said some of the people they were with usually drink alcohol, use marijuana or use other drugs
  • 29% of those who typically came home between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. said that some of the people they were with usually drink alcohol, use marijuana or use other drugs

Other teen drug abuse statistics found in this survey included information about prescription drug use, the prevalence of marijuana in schools and teen alcohol preferences.

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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