Attitude About Drugs

Teen Attitudes Toward Drugs and Alcohol

High school seniors who are less likely to use drugs are female non-smokers with a spiritual foundation. The results, according to a study of people’s attitudes towards illicit drugs, was conducted in light of more lenient laws for marijuana use. Learn more about teen attitudes toward drugs and alcohol and what impact it has on finding treatment options for young people.


Demographics and lifetime use of drugs (especially marijuana) can be a predictor of young people using harder drugs. Data for the study was obtained from a survey which was part of a program called “Monitoring the Future.”  Included in the study were nearly thirty thousand high school seniors from a cross section of public and private schools across the United States. Researchers discovered young people who smoked cigarettes or used more than one ‘hard’ drug (crack, cocaine) were consistently less critical of other drug use. Lifetime alcohol use among young people had not noticeable impact on attitudes. Young people who used marijuana exclusively had a tendency to be less judgmental towards the use of drugs such as LSD, methamphetamine and ecstasy. Young people who used marijuana had less desirable attitudes towards drugs like cocaine, crack or heroin.

Where Females Fit

Female high school students consistently disapproved of cocaine, crack or LSD use almost exclusively which was expected since females are less likely to use most drugs in comparison to males. When a person had a particularly strong religious or spiritual affiliation, attitudes against drug use also shifted. Young people from more privileged backgrounds with highly educated parents and families in urban areas were more tolerant of drug use.

Minority Students

One element of the research was quite interesting in that black students were less disapproving of powder cocaine, crack and ecstasy as the group generally uses the drugs less than white students. Strong religious beliefs and a higher rate of arrest and incarceration among the black teen population were thought to be reasons behind this finding. The prevalence of ecstasy in both rap and hip-hop music may explain the more tolerant attitude towards the drugs.

It may be difficult to prevent the use of substances in teens as it regards alcohol or marijuana even though prevention efforts are directed in those areas. Researchers from the study realized the teens may benefit from more prevention efforts focused on teens who use multiple drugs or substances as that was more common than previously thought. Changes in public health spaces as well as policy can be beneficial as well as incorporating more conversations in the home regarding drug and alcohol use or the use of other illicit substances. When teens are empowered to make appropriate and healthy choices, it is less likely a teen will turn to drugs or other substances to deal with the pressures of young adulthood.


Teens struggle as much as adults with addictions, but in different ways. Young people have specialized needs when it comes to supporting the transition from addiction to recovery. Call The Villa to find out how we can help support you or your family if you are struggling to help a teen fight addiction.