An In-Depth Look at Teenage Drug Use in 2024

As a consultant helping small businesses thrive, I often advise owners on complex workforce issues. One overlooked challenge is rising adolescent drug use and the toll it takes on young workers – and companies. By understanding the latest teenage substance abuse statistics, we can better support healthy families and future employees.

By the Numbers: Teen Drug Use Trends

Over a third of high school seniors have tried marijuana and about 1 in 10 misuse prescription opioids, according to 2023 national survey data. Teen substance use peaked around the late 1990s but remains prevalent today.

Most Abused Substances

  • Marijuana: Past-year use has risen from just under 30% in 2008 to 37% among 12th graders in 2024. With legalization expanding, perceived risk is down.
  • Alcohol: 58.5% of high school seniors have tried alcohol. 16% binge drink monthly. Underage drinking kills over 4,300 teens annually.
  • Prescription Drugs: 2023 saw prescription misuse dip to just under 10% for 12th graders. Still, these pills account for over half of overdose deaths among teens.

Trends Over Time

Year % Who Used Marijuana % Who Misused Prescription Pills
2008 29.9% 13%
2023 37% 11%

While rates fluctuate by subgroup, these national surveys capture worrisome patterns of teen substance experimentation.

Why Teens Use: Risk & Protective Factors

Teen personalities still develop significantly, making them more prone to poor judgement. Certain factors raise – or lower – and individual‘s substance abuse risk.


  • Mental health disorders
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor academic performance
  • Early aggressive behavior
  • Favorable attitudes towards drugs


  • Parental drug use
  • Conflict at home
  • Inconsistent discipline
  • Lack of parental oversight


  • Academic failure
  • Lack of anti-drug policies
  • Peer group drug use


  • Poverty
  • Easy access to drugs
  • Community drug norms

Conversely, involved parenting, social support, academic success, and positive activities protect against frequent use.

Substance Abuse Impacts on Workplace & Economy

Teen drinking, vaping, and drug use jeopardize workplace safety, productivity, staff retention and profits. Adolescent substance use cost the US $442 billion in healthcare, criminal justice, and lost earnings in 2019 alone. This bleak data shows why small companies must care.

From my experience, effective drug prevention policies, employee wellness benefits, and local youth program funding can mitigate future losses. School counselors and compassionate managers can also intervene early when troubling behaviors emerge.

Turning the Tide Through Education & Support

As small business consultants and community members, we all play a role in promoting healthy families. We must continue raising awareness of current teen drug use trends and risks, funding youth programs, improving school policies, and educating on dangers. Parents should open dialogues with teens on making safe, smart choices while offering nonjudgmental support.

With compassion and prevention, we can help guide adolescents towards positive coping strategies and futures where substance use does not hold them back.


  • National Institute on Drug Abuse 2023 Monitoring the Future Survey
  • US Department of Health & Human Services
  • US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
  • National Survey on Drug Use & Health
  • Journal of Business Research