What Challenges Are Boys Facing, and What Opportunities Exist To Address Those Challenges? Fact Sheet: Substance Abuse*. Some Facts about Boys and Substance Abuse

08/01/2008

Alcohol Use

  • In middle school, adolescents of both genders begin drinking around the same age, but by high school, boys drink more frequently and more heavily and have more drinking problems than girls do.1
  • In 2006, boys were typically more likely than girls to drink large quantities of alcohol in a single sitting, and these gender differences become considerably larger at the upper grade levels.2
  • In 2006, 47% of twelfth grade boys, 34% of tenth grade boys, and 16% of eighth grade boys reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days.3

Tobacco and Inhalant Use

  • In 2005, three out of five high school boys had tried cigarette smoking, and more than two out of five high school boys had used inhalants, such as glue, aerosols, nail polish remover, and other household substances.4
  • In 2006, 22% of twelfth grade boys, 13% of tenth grade boys, and 8% of eighth grade boys reported smoking at least one cigarette in the past 30 days.5
  • Daily cigarette use fell by more than half among eighth and tenth grade students between 1996 and 2006. In 2006, 4% of eighth graders and 8% of tenth graders reported smoking daily, compared with 10% and 18%, respectively, in 1996.6
  • Among high school students, lifetime inhalant use decreased from 20% in 1995 to 12% in 2003 and then remained steady at 12% from 2003 to 2005.7
  • While older boys tend to smoke, drink, and use drugs more than younger boys do, eighth graders are more likely than older boys to use inhalants.8

Marijuana and Illicit Drugs

  • According to a 2006 survey, the percentage of twelfth graders who had used marijuana in the past year was higher among boys than girls (33% versus 30%, respectively), as was the percentage using marijuana daily (6% for boys versus 3% for girls). This gender difference also holds true among eighth and tenth graders.9
  • The gender disparity among twelfth graders in the use of marijuana and alcohol has been decreasing as overall rates of use have gone down. The narrowing gender gap is a result of greater declines in use for boys compared to girls.10
  • In 2006, 38% of twelfth graders, 29% of tenth graders, and 15% of eighth grade boys and girls had taken illegal drugs in the past year.11

Any Illicit Drug Use in the Last 30 Days (%)

Any Illicit Drug Use in the Last 30 Days (%)

Prescription Drugs

  • Among boys and girls ages 12 to 17, prescription drugs have become the second most abused drug behind marijuana.12
  • Of boys and girls ages 12 to 17, 3% reported current abuse of prescription drugs in 2005.13
  • Girls use prescription drugs more than boys do. In 2007, nearly 1 in 10 teen girls reported using a prescription drug to get high at least once in the past year, compared to 1 in 13 teen boys. But boys use street drugs more than girls do.14

Substance Use as a Risk Factor for Problem Behaviors and Negative Outcomes

  • Studies have linked adolescents’ abuse of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco to many other problem behaviors and outcomes, including low academic performance, suicide, automobile accidents, and juvenile delinquency.15161718
  • Adolescent boys who use drugs and alcohol are more likely than their peers to act out in school and get into fights.19

Adolescents Seeking and Receiving Treatment for Substance Abuse

  • In 2005, almost 8% of all treatment admissions for substance abuse were boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 17.20
  • In 2006, about one-third of all substance abuse treatment facilities in the United States offered programs for adolescents.21
  • A 2002 study found that with treatment, boys experience significant reduction in substance use rates relative to comparison youth in the short run; the benefits of treatment for girls emerged later and endured longer.22

Trends in Substance Use Among Youth

  • The proportion of eighth graders reporting use of an illicit drug at least once in the past 12 months dropped by nearly half from 24% in 1996 to 13% by 2007.23
  • The percentage of twelfth grade students who report being substance free (no cigarettes, no alcohol, and no illicit drugs) in the last 30 days increased from 26% in 1976 to a high of 48% in 2006.24
  • Boys’ smoking and drinking rates have declined since the mid- to late-1990s.25

(1)  Faden, V. B., & Goldman, M. (2004/2005). Introduction: Alcohol and development in youth — A multidisciplinary overview. Alcohol Research and Health, 28, 107-108.

(2)  Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2007). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2006: Volume I, Secondary school students (NIH Publication No. 07-6205). Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved March 7, 2008, from http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/vol1_2006.pdf  [PDF format]

(3)  Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2007).

(4)  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2006). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2005.

Surveillance Summaries, June 9, 2006. MMWR 2006; 55(No. SS-5).

(5)  Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2007).

(6)  Child Trends. (n.d.). Daily cigarette use. In Child Trends Data Bank. Retrieved March 14, 2008, fromhttp://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/indicators/3Smoking.cfm

(7)  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2006). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2005. Surveillance Summaries, June 9, 2006. MMWR 2006; 55(No. SS-5).

(8)  Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2007).

(9)  Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2007).

(10)  Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2007).

(11)  Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2007).

(12)  Office of National Drug Control Policy: Executive Office of the President. (2007). Teens and prescription drugs: An analysis of recent trends on the emerging drug threat. Washington, DC.

(13)  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). The 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Rockville, MD. http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k5NSDUH/2k5results.htm

(14)  Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2007). Women and prescription drugs. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved May 28, 2008, fromhttp://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/drugfact/factsht/women_presc_drgs.html

(15)  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). Academic performance and substance use among students aged 12 to 17: 2002, 2003, and 2004 [Electronic version]. The NSDUH Report, 18. Retrieved May 27, 2008, fromhttp://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k6/academics/academics.htm

(16)  Cho, H., Hallfors, D. D., & Iritani, B. J. (2007). Early initiation of substance use and subsequent risk factors related to suicide among urban high school students. Addictive Behaviors, 32, 1628-1639.

(17)  Zador, P. L., Krawchuk, S. A., & Voas, R. B. (2000). Alcohol-related relative risk of driver fatalities and driver involvement in fatal crashes in relation to driver age and gender: an update using 1996 data. Journal of Studies of Alcohol, 61, 387-395.

(18)  Doherty, E. E., Green, K. M., & Ensminger, M. E. (2008). Investigating the long-term influence of adolescent delinquency on drug use initiation. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 93, 72-84.

(19)  Springer, F. J., Sambrano, S., Sale, E., Kasim,R., Hermann, J. (2002). Making prevention effective for adolescent boys and girls: Gender differences in substance use and prevention. In The National Cross-site Evaluation of High-risk Youth Programs (Monograph Series No. 4). Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

(20)  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2008). Substance abuse treatment admissions by primary substance of abuse. Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS). Retrieved May 28, 2008 from, http://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/webt/quicklink/US05.htm

(21)  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). National survey of substance abuse treatment services (N-SSATS). Retrieved May 28, 2008, from http://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/webt/state_data/US06.pdf [in PDF format, 4 pages]

(22)  Springer, J. F., Sambrano, S., Sale, E., Kasim, R., & Hermann, J. (2002).

(23)  Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2008). Monitoring the Future national results on adolescent drug use: Overview of key findings, 2007 (NIH Publication No. 08-6418). Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.

(24)  Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2007).

(25)  Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2007).

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