Illicit and Nonillicit Drug Use

Illicit drug use—which includes the abuse of illegal drugs and/or the misuse of prescription medications or household substances—is something many adolescents engage in occasionally, and a few do regularly. By the twelfth grade, about half of adolescents have abused an illicit drug at least once.[1] The most commonly used drug is marijuana but adolescents can find many abused substances, such as prescription medications, glues, and aerosols, in the home. [1]  Many factors and strategies can help adolescents stay drug free: Strong positive connections with parents, other family members, school, and religion; having parents present in the home at key times of the day; and reduced access in the home to illegal substances.[2]

 

Check out these resources for adolescents who may be struggling with illicit drug use issues (including the abuse of prescription drugs):

  • Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) substance abuse treatment helpline at 1-800-662-HELP. Confidential, free service, along with referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations, are available for individuals and family members facing substance abuse and mental health issues.
  • To find a local treatment facility, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator.

Learn more about adolescents and illicit drug use:

Resources for Parents

  • Parents or other caregivers looking for resources and strategies to prevent, or stop, illicit drug use by adolescents, can visit the Partnership at DrugFree.org.  The site from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) provides tools on prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery.  Not In My House, another site from ONDCP, has tips on how parents can talk with teens about prescription drug abuse.
  • Get Smart About Drugs is a online resource from the Drug Enforcement  Administration for parents. It includes research, news, quizzes, and videos to educate parents about how to identify and prevent drug abuse among children and young adults.
  • This guide, a joint effort between the Department of Justice and the Department of Education, provides information and research specifically for parents on why kids use drugs and how parents can be involved in helping stay drug free. 

Resources for Adolescents

  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a number of different resources on illicit drug use, including a designated section for adolescents looking for more information on the science behind drug abuse and the effects of drug use on the body and brain. 
  • To learn how to stay drug-free, adolescents can visit Above the Influence, the adolescent-geared website from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).


[1]Johnston, L. D., O'Malley, P. M., Miech, R. A., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2014). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use: 1975-2013: Overview of key findings on adolescent drug use. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan. Retrieved March 21, 2014, from http://www.monitoringthefuture.org//pubs/monographs/mtf-overview2013.pdf
[2]Blum, R. W., & Rinehart, P. M. (1997). Reducing the risk: Connections that make a difference in the lives of youth. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH).
Last updated: April 19, 2014