View Info Center


Drug Trends Report: Does socioeconomic advantage lessen the risk of adolescent substance use?

About one quarter of eighth graders and half of all high school seniors in the U.S. have used an illicit drug at some point in their lives (Miech et al., 2018). Because alcohol and other drug use during the teen years—a critical neurodevelopmental period—is highly predictive of a wide variety of later problems (Miech et al., 2018), much research has focused on the risk and protective factors for adolescent substance use, including the environments in which children grow up. This Emerging Drug Trends Report describes the results of recent studies that provide new information about how characteristics of those environments influence youth substance use. We examine socioeconomic status, school environments and parenting practices. This new research includes findings that will surprise many and also reinforce the longstanding notion that substance use—and especially substance use disorder—is an “equal-opportunity destroyer” because it affects families of all socioeconomic backgrounds.