Substance-FreeThe percentage of youth who are not frequently using drugs has been increasing. In 2014, 54% of high school seniors and 86% of eighth graders reported being substance-free for the previous month (did not use cigarettes, alcohol, or illicit drugs). Among students, black seniors were more likely than white seniors to have abstained for the previous month. Plans for the future make a difference: students who planned to attend a four-year college were less likely to have used substances in all three categories (cigarettes, alcohol, and illicit drugs) in the previous month .
CigarettesIn 2015, 32% of high school students reported having tried cigarettes (down from 41% the previous year), while 3% reported frequent smoking. Eleven percent of students smoke at least occasionally (smoked cigarettes on at least one day during the 30 days before the survey), and 45% of this group had tried to quit smoking at some time during the last year . Use of e-cigarettes/vaporizers over the past 30 days is reported by more teens than use of tobacco cigarettes (10% 8th graders, 14% 10th graders, and 16% 12th graders) . (Note that e-cigarettes contain nicotine derived from tobacco.)
AlcoholWhile drinking continues to be widespread, rates of lifetime, annual, and past 30-day use of alcohol reached their lowest recorded levels for 10th and 12th graders in 2015 . In 2015, one in three students reported having had at least one drink during the 30 days before the survey . Eighteen percent of students had engaged in binge drinking (5 or more drinks in a row in the previous 30 days) . Young adults in their late teens and early twenties have the highest rates of binge drinking, and full-time college students are more likely to binge on alcohol than are youth age 18-22 who are not full-time students .
Since 1991, driving while drunk has declined among youth by over half . However, in 2015, 8% of high school students who drive reported having driven while drinking at least once in the last 30 days, and 20% of students rode in a car driven by someone who had been drinking . Young adults age 21-25 have the highest risk of driving under the influence of alcohol .
MarijuanaFor many years, marijuana has been the most widely-used illegal drug among adolescents . Over one in five students (22%) reported having used marijuana during the month before completing the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey . One percent of 8th grade students use marijuana daily; by 12th grade, 6% are using daily .
Other SubstancesResults from the 2015 Monitoring the Future study indicate that use of many substances is declining, while others are holding steady. Generally, increases in drug use were not seen . As street drugs have declined, abuse of prescription drugs has tended to increase (though declines were seen in 2015); youth may perceive these to be more safe . According to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, figures for lifetime use (percentage of high school students who have used a particular substance one or more times at some point in their lives) are: prescription drugs taken without a prescription (17%), inhalants (7%), hallucinogenics (6%), ecstasy/MDMA (5%), cocaine (5%), methamphetamine (3%), steroids without a prescription (3%), and heroin (2%) .
Drug-Related EmergenciesOn average there were approximately 777 drug-related visits to emergency departments among teens age 12-17 in 2011. The majority of these involved alcohol either alone (110) or combined with other drugs (87), followed by marijuana (165) and painkillers (74) .
Substance Use DisorderFive percent of teens age 12-17  and nearly 7% of young adults (age 18-25) suffer from substance use disorder (SUD) . Three percent of teens age 16-17 had a major depressive episode co-occurring with SUD in the past year, and just over half did not receive treatment .
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