A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
1997 CASA Teen Survey
August 13, 1997
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuses (CASA) Commission on Substance Abuse Among Americas Adolescents has released the results of their third annual national survey of teens and their parents. The report, Substance Abuse and the American Adolescent, reveals that the age at which children are beginning to smoke cigarettes daily, drink alcohol, and use marijuana and other illegal drugs, including cocaine and hallucinogens like LSD, is the youngest ever. The report also finds that the use of alcohol and drugs in early and mid-adolescence interferes with physical, intellectual and emotional development, as well as increases the chances of accidents, illness and death.
Additional findings include:
- The percentage of 12-year-olds (23.5%) who know a friend or classmate who has used illegal drugs like acid, cocaine, or heroin increased 122% from 1996 to 1997.
- The peak time for initiation of smoking cigarettes is in sixth and seventh grades, when children are ages 11 and 12.
- In 1996, more than 55% of 8th graders had tried alcohol; more than 75% found it easy to get and nearly 27% admitted being drunk.
- Nearly 1 million 8th graders admit getting drunk; almost 2 million 12th graders have used alcohol in the past 30 days and 1.2 million are binge drinkers (consuming more than 5 alcoholic drinks in one sitting).
- The number of 8th graders who have used marijuana before 7th grade increased from 7.7% to 12. 7% from 1992-1996. The percentage of 8th graders who have tried crack, powder cocaine or heroin, though small, has also been rising.
- Heroin usage among teens has doubled since 1991. Heroin is the only illegal substance used by more 8th graders than 10th and 12th graders.
- From 1995 to 1996, the number of 9- to 12-year-olds trying marijuana doubled, from 2% to 4%, and from 1993 to 1996, those trying cocaine increased from 2% to 3%.
- Alcohol remains the drug of choice among all teenagers, and the drug most associated with risky behaviors (drunk driving, teen pregnancy, suicide and violence).
- Among 12- to 17-year-olds with no problem behaviors, those who drank alcohol and smoked cigarettes at least once in the past month are 30 times more likely to smoke marijuana than those who didnt. Similarly, those 12- to 17-year olds who used "gateway drugs" (alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana) in the past month are 17 times more likely to use another drug like cocaine, heroin, or acid.