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What’s Your Teen’s Top Pick for Drug Use?

If you’re raising a teenager, you’ve asked yourself the following: What substances are tempting today’s teen? And more importantly, what are the drugs my teen is most likely to abuse?

To protect your teen from drug use, it’s important to answer questions like these.

Let’s Talk About Drugs

Here’s a list that outlines the drugs most commonly abused by modern teenagers. This information is based on results from the 2015 Monitoring The Future Survey.

  • Alcohol: Drinking far outweighs other drug abuse among teens. with 58.2 percent of 12th graders reporting past-year use. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports alcohol use causes is more than 4,300 underage deaths per year. As for the kind of alcohol teens prefer, they seem to like expensive hard liquor and affordable beer. When ranking the top 25 brands consumed by underage drinkers, four are flavored alcoholic beverages, nine are beers and 12 are various hard liquors.
  • Marijuana/Hashish/Synthetic Cannabinoids: 34.9 percent reported using marijuana. It’s the most commonly used illicit drug among this age group, often hand-rolled or smoked via a water pipe (bong). An additional 5.2 percent of polled teens admitted to using synthetic marijuana. Synthetics, such as K2 or Spice, are made of dried plant materials coated with chemicals. When smoked, they produce the same effects as the active ingredient, found in marijuana, but the chemical properties make synthetics more dangerous.
  • Amphetamines: Excluding tobacco products, amphetamines are the third most popular drug among teens. A total of 15.2 percent used Adderall or other amphetamines. With these drugs becoming household names in the treatment of ADHD, teens have easy access to them. It’s not uncommon for teens to share, sell or misuse their own medications.
  • Narcotics: Teens obtain these in both illegal street form and in legal prescription medications. Since millions of Americans are prescribed powerful painkillers each year, it isn’t difficult for teens to get their hands on them. Chances are, you probably have some in your own medicine cabinet.
  • Tranquilizers: These drugs are also relatively easy for teenagers to obtain. In fact, 4.7 percent of polled teens reported abusing tranquilizers in the past year. Like painkillers, benzodiazepines are also heavily prescribed across the country.
  • Cough Medicine: Since cough medicines are a staple of the family medicine cabinet, it goes without saying they’re an easy target for teenage misuse. In fact, 4.6 percent admitted to abusing cough medicine in the past year. Its lower percentage probably indicates this drug is used when others aren’t easily accessible.


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