Are teens more likely to use drugs during the school year or during summer break? The Recovery Village conducted a survey to learn about teen drug use trends.

Although teen drug use occurs year-round, teens appear to use substances during certain times more than others. A recent survey by The Recovery Village asked people of all ages to respond to questions about their substance use during their younger years. Through their responses, The Recovery Village pinpointed the most popular times of the year for using substances. To best understand the patterns, it’s key to understand why teens are using drugs in the first place.

Why Do Teens Use Drugs?

There are many different reasons why teens seem so curious about trying illegal drugs. Factors like peer pressure or stress may play a large role in early substance misuse, but some teens are more predisposed to drug use than others. For example, genetics can influence substance use, as can mental health disorders or behaviors such as poor impulse control. A teen’s home life can also impact the likelihood of them experimenting with drugs or alcohol.

Qualifying poll respondents (275 individuals, 18-years-old and older) were asked why they first began using substances as a teen or young adult. Respondents could choose more than one answer. The most common responses were:

  • 42.18% were curious about a substance’s euphoric effects
  • 40.73% felt peer pressure or wanted to appease friends or acquaintances
  • 28.36% sought substances to deal with stress
  • 22.18% used drugs or alcohol to cope with mental health problems
  • 12.36% were introduced to drugs or alcohol by a family member

The National Institute on Drug Abuse stated that most people with a substance use disorder began using drugs or alcohol before they were 18-years-old. Since teens are already more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors, substance use can lead to decisions that carry lifelong consequences legally, mentally and physically.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adolescent substance use:

  • Affects growth and development, especially in the brain
  • Leads to risky behaviors, such as dangerous driving or unprotected sex
  • Can cause heart issues and sleep problems later in life

The Times Teens Are Using Drugs the Most

The poll results show that a majority (32%) of qualifying respondents (275 individuals) used drugs or alcohol most often on weekends during the school year when they were teens or young adults. However, almost the same amount (29.09%) used substances during the summer months. Additionally, 30.91% (85 respondents) stated they used drugs primarily out of boredom. Of those 85 respondents, 45.88% said the boredom came during the school year, and 36.47% attributed their drug use to being on summer vacation.


As a teenager, summer boredom is usually inevitable. Some teens turn to substance use to help the time pass. All survey respondents (400 individuals) were asked to agree or disagree with the following statement: My friends’ and/or peers’ recreational substance use was due to summertime boredom? The results revealed:

  • 35.25% of respondents were neutral or unsure, meaning that they couldn’t be certain whether summer boredom caused drug use
  • 25.50% agreed or strongly agreed
  • 28.75% disagreed or strongly disagreed

Over the Weekend During the School Year

Compared to summertime, the survey results show that slightly fewer teens used drugs or alcohol on weekends throughout the school year. Of the 275 individuals who qualified to answer, 11.27% responded that they would use substances on school days and 20.36% said they would use substances on school days in addition to weekends.

Responses about using substances throughout the year align with the reasons teens use drugs in the first place. In school, many students are looking for ways to fit in or look cool. They may also be suffering from low self-esteem or struggling with poor grades. These are factors unrelated to boredom that can easily contribute to alcohol and drug use in high school students.

All survey participants (400 individuals) were asked which season they thought teens and young adults were most likely to use substances in. The majority (79.75%) believed that summer was the season teens and young adults used substances during the most.

If your teen struggles with substance use, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village to speak with a representative about how teen-focused addiction treatment can help address addiction and any co-occurring disorders. Take the first step toward a healthier future, call today.

Jonathan Strum
By – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
Thomas Christiansen
Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Principles of Adolescent Substance Use D[…]esearch-Based Guide.” January 2014. Accessed September 12, 2019.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Teen Substance Use & Risks.” April 1, 2019. Accessed September 12, 2019.

Get Smart About Drugs. “Why do Teens Use Drugs?” August 14, 2018. Accessed September 12, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.