Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. SD 3.7 Abuse of Alcohol or Other Controlled Substances

01/01/2000

The use of alcohol and other illicit drugs by teens58 has been related to numerous social problems, such as delinquency, fighting, and early sexual activity59 and to a variety of short- and long-term health problems.60 For many reasons, then, it is important that youth stay free of all such substances.

In 1998, 13 percent of 12- through 17-year-olds reported binge drinking and/or any use of an illicit drug during the previous month (see Table SD 3.7).

Differences by Gender. Rates of reported use vary little by gender. In 1998, 14 percent of males and 12 percent of females ages 12 through 17 reported illicit drug use or binge drinking in the previous month.

Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin.61 Rates of reported use differed little among whites, blacks, and Hispanics, ranging from 12 percent to 14 percent in 1998.

 

58 A note on methodology. Throughout this report, we present data from two major federally sponsored surveys of adolescent substance use: the Monitoring the Future Study, a school-based survey, and the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, a household survey of the population ages 12 and older. A recent report finds that rates of drug use obtained were larger in the school survey than in the household survey, possibly because of greater underreporting in the household setting than in the classroom and the different questionnaires used in the two surveys. Gfroerer, J., Wright, D., & Kopstein, A. 1997. Prevalence of Youth Substance Use: The Impact of Methodological Differences between Two National Surveys. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 47: 19-30.
59 National Institute on Drug Abuse. National Trends in Drug Use and Related Factors among American High School Students and Young Adults, 1976-1986. 1987. DHHS Pub. No. (ADM) 87-1535. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. See also: Grant, B.R., & Dawson, D.A. Age at Onset of Alcohol Use and Its Association with DSM-IV Alcohol Abuse and Dependence: Results from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey. Journal of Substance Abuse 9: 103-110, which reports decreasing odds of alcohol dependence with each increasing year of age at onset of use, as well as decreasing odds of alcohol abuse.
60 Public Health Service, 1993.
61 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

 

Table SD 3.7 Percentage of youth ages 12 through 17 in the United States reporting illicit druga use and/or binge drinkingb in the past month, by gender and by race and Hispanic origin: 1994-1998

  1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
Total 13 15 13 14 13
Gender
Male 14 17 14 16 14
Female 12 13 11 13 12
Race and Hispanic originc
White 15 16 13 15 14
Black 10 12 10 12 11
Hispanic 10 13 13 13 12
Other 4 14 8 13 8

a Illicit drugs include marijuana, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens (including PCP), inhalants, and nonmedical use of psychotherapeutics.
b Binge drinking includes drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on one or more days in the past 30 days.
c Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Office of Applied Studies, Prevalence Branch. Unpublished analyses, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1994-1998.

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