Survey Reports Reduction in Adolescent Substance Use Over Past Decade

For Immediate Release: January 31, 2017

Survey Reports Reduction in Adolescent Substance Use Over Past Decade

TALLAHASSEE — A substance abuse survey taken earlier this year of nearly 66,000 middle and high school students spanning 724 Florida schools showed a substantial decline in reported drug and alcohol use by middle and high school students since 2004. The study also indicated that Florida youth still face many other challenges including depression, poor self-confidence, and lack of knowledge about the risks of drug use and smoking.

“I am encouraged by the reported decline in drug and alcohol use by Florida’s kids, and that this report provides clear indicators for where our communities can come together to provide even greater support to youth and families by addressing the risk factors that are most commonly associated with youth substance use,” DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said. “Part of our sacred mission is to make sure that every Florida child has the opportunity to be safe, healthy, and educationally and developmentally on track, and helping them make good decisions is part of putting them on the road to success.”

The Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey is conducted annually by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), along with the departments of Health, Education, and Juvenile Justice. Created in 1999 by the Florida Legislature’s Drug Control Summit and funded by the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, the survey is undertaken annually to gauge substance abuse rates among school-aged youth. The FYSAS is based on the "Communities That Care" survey, assessing risk and protective factors for substance abuse, in addition to substance abuse prevalence.

From 2004 to 2016, Florida students reporting alcohol use within the past 30 days declined 14 percentage points and binge drinking declined more than 8 percentage points. Past-30-day use of any illicit drug (excluding marijuana) dropped nearly 4 percentage points, while past-30-day cigarette use declined 8 percentage points during the same time period. In contrast to the reductions for alcohol and cigarette use, the long-term trend for marijuana use among Florida students is mixed, with a history of both increases and decreases. The most recent change is a reduction in past-30-day use from 2014 to 2016.

Though these findings point toward a healthier school-aged population, students still face many challenges in their day-to-day lives. More than 16 percent of high school students reported that within 30 days of taking the survey they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. Also, more than 40 percent of high school students reported that within a year of taking the survey they have felt depressed or sad most days.

This year DCF introduced the Florida Youth Survey Online tool. The website,, will present the results of two types of surveys in organized and graphical ways for more strategic and data-driven program and policy planning.

To find substance abuse or mental health treatment services, visit .