Since 2002, while underage alcohol use and tobacco use rates decreased, illicit drug use rates remained relatively steady, with negligible declines -- despite prohibition.
In 2009 about half of the youths aged 12-17 reported that it would be "fairly easy" or "very easy" for them to obtain marijuana if they wanted to.
We urge young people to avoid alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, but national surveys show us that substance use is common among high school students and most young people accept it as part of teenage social life. If we ignore the reality of teen drug use and fail to provide young people with honest, informative drug education, we increase their risk of falling into abusive patterns.
Misleading drug education can also weaken youth confidence in law enforcement, parents, and other adults. DPA supports reality-based approaches to drug education at home and in school that foster open and honest dialogue around the risks and consequences of drug use. Students need drug education that respects their intelligence and gives them the tools to stay safe and healthy.
Get our Safety First booklet for ideas on how to talk to young people about drugs.