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- Definition: Estimated percentage of public school students in grades 7, 9, 11, and non-traditional programs who have used alcohol or drugs (excluding tobacco) in the previous 30 days (e.g., in 2013-2015, an estimated 23.2% of 9th graders in California had used alcohol or drugs in the previous month).
- Data Source: WestEd, California Healthy Kids Survey. California Department of Education (Jul. 2017).
- Footnote: Years presented comprise two school years (e.g., 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years are shown as 2013-2015). County- and state-level data are weighted estimates; school district-level data are unweighted. Students in non-traditional programs are those enrolled in community day schools or continuation education. The notation S refers to (a) data for school districts that have been suppressed because there were fewer than 10 respondents in that group, and (b) data for counties that have been suppressed because the sample was too small to be representative. N/A means that data are not available.
- Measures of Youth Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use on Kidsdata.org
On kidsdata.org, indicators of youth alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use come from:
Data based on student reports are available by grade level (7, 9, 11, and/or non-traditional), gender, level of school connectedness,* parent education level, and sexual orientation.
- Student reports of alcohol or other drug use (excluding tobacco) in the previous month overall and on school property
- Student reports of the number of days they used alcohol, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and marijuana in the previous month
- Student reports of the number of days they binge drank in the previous month
- Student reports of the number times they have used alcohol, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and marijuana in their lifetimes
- Student reports of the number times they have driven when they had been drinking, or ridden with a driver who had been drinking, in their lifetimes
- Staff reports of the extent to which, at their school, student alcohol and drug use is a problem, substance abuse prevention is an important goal, and substance use prevention education is provided
*Levels of school connectedness are based on a scale created from responses to five questions about feeling safe, close to people, and a part of school, being happy at school, and about teachers treating students fairly.
- Youth Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use
- Alcohol/Drug Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Alcohol/Drug Use on School Property in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Alcohol Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Alcohol Use in Lifetime, by Grade Level
- Binge Drinking in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Drinking and Driving or Riding with a Driver Who Has Been Drinking, by Grade Level
- Cigarette Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Cigarette Use in Lifetime, by Grade Level
- E-Cigarette Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- E-Cigarette Use in Lifetime, by Grade Level
- Marijuana Use in Past Month, by Grade Level
- Marijuana Use in Lifetime, by Grade Level
- Student Alcohol and Drug Use Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- Substance Abuse Prevention Is an Important Goal at School (Staff Reported)
- Substance Use Prevention Education Is Provided at School (Staff Reported)
- Bullying and Harassment at School
- Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Bias-Related Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Disability as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Gender as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Race/Ethnicity or National Origin as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Religion as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Sexual Orientation as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Cyberbullying, by Grade Level
- Student Bullying/Harassment Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- Children's Emotional Health
- Hospitalizations for Mental Health Issues, by Age Group
- Depression-Related Feelings, by Grade Level
- Youth Who Reported Needing Help for Emotional or Mental Health Problems
- Receipt of Mental Health Services Among Children Who Need Treatment or Counseling (Regions of 70,000 Residents or More)
- Students Who Are Well-Behaved (Staff Reported)
- Student Depression or Mental Health Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- School Emphasizes Helping Students with Emotional and Behavioral Problems (Staff Reported)
- Intimate Partner Violence
- Disconnected Youth
- Pupil Support Services
- Juvenile Arrests
- Gang Involvement
- School Safety
- Perceptions of School Safety, by Grade Level
- Fear of Being Beaten Up at School, by Grade Level
- Physical Fighting at School, by Grade Level
- Carrying a Gun at School, by Grade Level
- Carrying a Weapon Other Than a Gun at School, by Grade Level
- Perceptions of School Safety for Students (Staff Reported)
- Perceptions of School Safety for Staff (Staff Reported)
- Student Physical Fighting Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- Student Weapons Possession Is a Problem at School (Staff Reported)
- School Attendance and Discipline
- School Climate
- School Connectedness (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- School Supports (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Caring Relationships with Adults at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Meaningful Participation at School (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Students Who Are Motivated to Learn (Staff Reported)
- School Motivates Students to Learn (Staff Reported)
- Adults at School Care About Students (Staff Reported)
- Adults at School Believe in Student Success (Staff Reported)
- School Gives Students Opportunities to Make a Difference (Staff Reported)
- School Fosters Youth Resilience or Asset Promotion (Staff Reported)
- Youth Suicide and Self-Inflicted Injury
- Why This Topic Is Important
Youth alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use is a significant public health concern and is associated with a wide range of academic, social, and health problems (1, 2). Alcohol is the most widely used substance among the nation's young people and binge drinking, in particular, has been linked to risky health behaviors (e.g., unprotected sex, smoking), injuries, motor vehicle accidents, impaired cognitive functioning, poor academic performance, physical violence, and suicide attempts (1, 2). Drinking during adolescence increases the likelihood of alcohol dependence in adulthood, and excessive alcohol consumption can have long-term health consequences, including liver disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease (1, 2).
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable and premature death in the U.S., resulting in more than 480,000 deaths annually (3). Smoking has cumulative, irreversible negative health effects, and most long-term smokers start when they are teens or young adults (3, 4). Tobacco use or smoking in any form—including electronic cigarettes—is unsafe (3, 4). Marijuana use, too, is linked to adverse effects such as respiratory problems, anxiety attacks, cognitive difficulties, and coordination loss, as well as aggressive behavior and poor academic performance among youth (5).Opioid misuse is a national crisis; among adolescents ages 15-19, the rate of opioid-related overdose death tripled between 1999 and 2015, from 0.8 to 2.4 per 100,000 (6). Data from a 2017 survey of teens, however, show historically low rates of opioid use, along with declines in perceived availability (7).
For more information on this topic, see kidsdata.org's Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. Child Trends Databank. (2016). Binge drinking. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=binge-drinking
2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Report to congress on the prevention and reduction of underage drinking. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from: https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Report-to-Congress-on-the-Prevention-and-Reduction-of-Underage-Drinking/PEP14-RTCUAD
3. Child Trends Databank. (2016). Daily cigarette use. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=daily-cigarette-use
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Youth and tobacco use. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/youth_data/tobacco_use
5. Child Trends Databank. (2016). Marijuana use. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=marijuana-use
6. Curtain, S. C., et al. (2017). Drug overdose deaths among adolescents aged 15–19 in the United States: 1999–2015. National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db282.htm
7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Vaping popular among teens; opioid misuse at historic lows. Retrieved from: https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2017/12/vaping-popular-among-teens-opioid-misuse-historic-lows
- How Children Are Faring
According to 2013-15 estimates, 10% of 7th graders, 23% of 9th graders, and 33% of 11th graders in California public schools used alcohol or drugs in the previous 30 days. Among students in non-traditional programs (community day schools and continuation education), alcohol or drug use in the past month was higher than 60%—almost double the estimate for 11th graders. Statewide, 16% of 11th graders binge drank at least once in the previous month, and 18% had either driven when they had been drinking, or had ridden with a driver who had been drinking, at least once in their lifetimes. E-cigarette use typically was more common than cigarette smoking: 31% of 11th graders had used e-cigarettes at least once, compared to 17% who had smoked cigarettes. Lifetime marijuana use among California 11th graders was 64% overall, and ranged from 45% to 74% across counties with data.
Gay, lesbian, and bisexual students more frequently report substance use, as do students with low levels of school connectedness and those whose parents did not finish high school. Across all grade levels in 2013-15, estimates of alcohol or drug use in the previous month were higher for girls than for boys.
High school staff reports from the same period show that 44% considered student alcohol and drug use a moderate to severe problem. At the same time more than six out of ten agreed that substance abuse prevention was an important goal at their school, and seven out of 10 reported that their school provided at least some substance use prevention education.
- Policy Implications
Public policy can promote early identification of known risk factors for youth substance use, such as poor school performance, truancy, lack of parental supervision, aggressive behavior, drug availability, and substance use by peers (1, 2, 3). Policies and programs also can promote protective factors, such as school engagement, positive community connections, and academic success (1). Screening and early intervention can be effective, especially when specifically tailored to the population and risk factors (3, 4). Controlling youth smoking (including e-cigarettes) and alcohol consumption also requires particular attention to mass media and marketing (5, 6).
Policy and program options for addressing youth alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use include:
For more information, see kidsdata.org's Research & Links section or visit the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Also see Policy Implications for School Connectedness and Children's Emotional Health.
- Prioritizing screening and early identification of risk factors correlated with substance use, especially among middle school youth; screening should include mental health issues, as they often co-occur with substance abuse (3, 4, 7)
- Developing comprehensive policies that promote school and community connectedness among youth and help them develop the knowledge, skills, and motivation to avoid substance use; such policies should focus on preadolescence through young adulthood and involve support from families, schools, colleges, community organizations, government, and others (5, 6, 7)
- Promoting youth-focused, mass media counter-marketing strategies to combat tobacco and alcohol advertising; also reducing youth exposure to tobacco and alcohol marketing, including monitoring compliance with marketing standards (5, 6)
- Ensuring adequate funding, accessibility, and availability of developmentally appropriate, research-based treatment for youth substance abuse (3, 4)
- Continuing to enforce, strengthen, and extend evidence-based legislation, such as increased prices on alcohol and tobacco products, and keg registration requirements (5, 6, 8)
Sources for this narrative:
1. Patrick, M. E., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2014). Prevalence and predictors of adolescent alcohol use and binge drinking in the United States. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, 35(2), 193-200. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3908711
2. Marshall, E. J. (2014). Adolescent alcohol use: Risks and consequences. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 49(2), 160-164. Retrieved from: http://alcalc.oxfordjournals.org/content/49/2/160
3. American Public Human Services Association. (2013). Behavioral health—Prevention, early identification, and intervention. Retrieved from: http://www.aphsa.org/content/dam/aphsa/pdfs/Pathways/2013-06-BehavioralHealth-Prevention-Early-Identification-Intervention-PolicyBrief.pdf
4. Wachino, V., & Hyde, P. S. (2015). Coverage of behavioral health services for youth with substance use disorders. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration & Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. Retrieved from: http://medicaid.gov/federal-policy-guidance/downloads/cib-01-26-2015.pdf
5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Report to congress on the prevention and reduction of underage drinking. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from: https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Report-to-Congress-on-the-Prevention-and-Reduction-of-Underage-Drinking/PEP14-RTCUAD
6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults: A report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2012/index.htm
7. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2017). Underage drinking. Retrieved from: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/UnderageDrinking/UnderageFact.htm
8. Sacks, V. H., et al. (2014). An analysis of state underage drinking policies and adolescent alcohol use. Child Trends. Retrieved from: https://www.childtrends.org/publications/an-analysis-of-state-underage-drinking-policies-and-adolescent-alcohol-use-2
- Websites with Related Information
- Alcohol and Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Alcohol Policy Information System, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
- Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence
- California Tobacco Control Program, California Dept. of Public Health
- Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids
- Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
- Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Monitoring the Future 2017 Survey Results, National Institute on Drug Abuse
- National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health
- National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports: School, U.S. Office of Special Education Programs
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
- Underage Drinking, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
- Youth Tobacco Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Youth.gov, Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs
- Key Reports and Research
- Behavioral Health Barometer, 2017, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs, 2014, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Depressive Symptoms, Conduct Problems, and Risk for Polysubstance Use Among Adolescents: Results from U.S. National Surveys, 2013, Mental Health and Substance Use, Maslowsky, J., et al.
- Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2017, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Monitoring the Future National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975-2017: Overview, Key Findings on Adolescent Drug Use, 2018, University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, Johnston, L. D., et al.
- Prevalence and Predictors of Adolescent Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking in the United States, 2014, Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, Patrick, M. E., & Schulenberg, J. E.
- Preventing Tobacco Use among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2012, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide, 2014, National Institute on Drug Use
- Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes, 2018, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
- Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking, 2015, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- School Policies, School Connection, and Adolescents: What Predicts Young Adult Substance Use?, 2014, Child Trends, Sacks, V. H., et al.
- The Regulation of Alcohol Marketing: From Research to Public Health Policy, 2017, Addiction, Babor, T. F., et al. (eds.)
- Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2011–2016, 2017, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Jamal, A., et al.
- Youth Tobacco Product Use in the United States, 2015, Pediatrics, Lee, Y. O., et al.
- County/Regional Reports
- 2017 Kern County Report Card, Kern County Network for Children
- Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan, Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health
- Key Indicators of Health by Service Planning Area, 2017, Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health
- Live Well San Diego Report Card on Children, Families, and Community, 2017, The Children's Initiative & Live Well San Diego
- Orange County Community Indicators Report, Orange County Community Indicators Project
- San Mateo County All Together Better, San Mateo County Health
- Santa Clara County Public Health Department: Open Data Portal
- Santa Monica Youth Wellbeing Report Card, Santa Monica Cradle to Career
- The 24th Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, 2018, Orange County Children's Partnership
- Youth Need Data, Get Healthy San Mateo County
- More Data Sources For Youth Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use
- 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book, Annie E. Casey Foundation
- California Health and Human Services Open Data Portal, California Health and Human Services Agency
- California Health Interview Survey, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
- California School Climate, Health, and Learning Surveys Data Dashboard, WestEd & California Dept. of Education
- Childstats.gov, Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics
- Monitoring the Future Project, University of Michigan Institute for Social Research
- National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), UNC Carolina Population Center
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Data, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
- Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Youth Tobacco Survey, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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