A young man drinks over some marijuana

Alcohol and drug experimentation by adolescent youth is still a major problem in this country. One survey found that by late adolescence, 78.2% of all adolescents had tried alcohol, while 42.5% had tried drugs. (1)

This is particularly concerning as studies have shown a clear detrimental effect that drug and/or alcohol use has on the adolescent brain development. It has also been linked to serious addiction problems occurring later on in adult life. (2)

Here we discuss the drugs in which are most commonly abused among adolescents.

1) Alcohol

Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in the world, and this also extends to the youth. A A young man yells while in front of spice packets and boozelarge part of its popularity with youth also derives from it being typically the most accessible substance for them to obtain.

2) Marijuana

Marijuana is typically the first illegal drug experimented with by youth.

This is largely due to its popularity and ready availability in most areas. Its growing legality and general perception of being harmless have also increased its popularity.

Marijuana can also come in many forms, including: flowers, dabs, wax and concentrate.

3) Dextromethorphan

The past few decades have seen the growing popularity in youth of abusing cough medications that contain dextromethorphan. These medications, such as Coricidin, Robitussin, and others, provide a disorienting hallucinogenic high. The availability of these medications over the counter in most jurisdictions makes them readily available for abuse.

4) Spice

Spice, aka K2, is the name for synthetic marijuana that has grown in popularity over the years. Synthetic marijuana is usually comprised of designer drugs that mimic the effects of marijuana and are sprayed on random herbs.

The research chemicals used to make these are almost never tested in humans and thus dangerous. They also tend to be legal, and thus
readily available.

True Recovery

5) Prescription Amphetamines

The most common exposure to hard narcotics amongst youth is through prescription medications. The most commonly abused prescription drugs among youth tend to be prescription amphetamines (which are commonly prescribed to young people), such as Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse. These drugs are often readily available in schools due to the number of children prescribed to them.

6) Inhalants

Inhalants are also popular with adolescents. Inhalant abuse is the deliberate inhaling of volatile chemicals typically found in household cleaners, dusters, and other readily available items. This causes a brief euphoric high along with delirium. Nitrous oxide is also commonly abused by youth.

7) Nicotine

Various nicotine-containing tobacco product abuse by minors has been a problem for quite some time. While tobacco use among adolescents is reportedly down, the use of nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes has risen drastically.

The CDC reports that 4.9% of middle school students and 20.8% of high school students report having used an electronic cigarette in the past 30 days in the year 2018. (3)

8) Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are medications commonly prescribed to treat panic and anxiety-related disorders. Benzodiazepines include medications such as Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, and others. In recent years, the number of benzodiazepine prescriptions has skyrocketed, which has led to them having a high availability in many US households.

Benzodiazepines are abused for their sedative and alcohol-like effects by a growing number of young people. (4)

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/1151056#ref-%20yoa110037-13%202
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2827693/
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/youth_data/tobacco_use/index.htm
  4. https://www.medicalbag.com/medicine/addiction-benzodiazepines-prescription-drug-problem/article/748515/