Problem drug and alcohol use in a community sample of adolescents

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1999 Jul;38(7):900-7. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199907000-00021.


Objective: Epidemiological studies of illegal drug use in adolescents have examined frequency of drug use; a few have examined diagnoses or symptoms of drug abuse or dependence. This study examined problem use of illegal drugs, about which very little is known.

Method: Adolescents (879 boys and 929 girls), mean age of 15.7 years, representative of the province of Québec, Canada, were asked about problem use of alcohol and illegal drugs.

Results: Almost one third had used illegal drugs more than 5 times. Of this group, more than 70% reported going to school high on drugs, and the majority reported playing sports while high and using drugs in the morning. In these drugs users, 94% of the boys and 85% of the girls reported at least 1 problem and two thirds of the boys and more than half of the girls reported 3 or more problems from illegal drugs. Marijuana was used by almost all subjects at the time of maximal drug use; hallucinogens were the second most commonly used drug. Alcohol was used more frequently than illegal drugs, but problem use was less common.

Conclusions: Problem drug use is the norm among the large minority who use illegal drugs more than a few times, and drug use is commonly incorporated into 2 major routine activities of teenagers--school and sports.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / drug effects*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cannabis / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Hallucinogens / adverse effects
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Sampling Studies
  • Self Disclosure
  • Sex Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*


  • Hallucinogens