top teen drugs

Commonly Used Drugs Among Teens

Though teen drug use is trending downward, issues like peer pressure and a desire to ease the rocky road of adolescence remain. Teenagers may experiment with drugs because they are curious about the effects, or to self-medicate mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

The top drugs used by teens include the following.

Adderall and Ritalin

If your son relies on Adderall or Ritalin to manage ADHD symptoms, it might surprise you to see such widely known, trusted prescription medications on this list. Because Adderall and Ritalin are FDA-approved drugs, many parents automatically assume it is safe. However, they are still controlled substances with a high potential for abuse if they fall into the wrong hands, and they are extremely prevalent on school campuses.

Since ADHD meds are stimulants, there’s a widespread belief they can make anyone feel more energetic and focused. That’s why these drugs can seem attractive to teens who are under a lot of pressure to do well in school. Some students illegally buy these so-called “study drugs” to sharpen their focus and help them overachieve, even though there is no definitive proof that these medications are safe or beneficial for people without ADHD. Indeed, they are more likely to cause harmful effects like accidental addiction or overdose. 


Marijuana is the world’s most widely used illicit drug, and its use can cause mental health issues like psychosis, especially when people start at a young age. Marijuana’s well-known high comes from tetrahydrocannabinol, a compound that binds to specialized receptors in the human brain. It can affect pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, movement, coordination and sensory perception.

Though it’s impossible to fatally overdose on marijuana, this drug can still have adverse consequences, especially for teens whose brains are still developing. With any drug, it is possible to develop a psychological dependence that makes people believe they need to continue taking it to feel “normal.”


Countless movies and TV shows have portrayed underaged drinking as a harmless rite of passage that rarely has serious consequences. However, people who begin drinking in their teens are much more likely to develop severe alcohol-related health problems later in life. Because alcohol impairs judgment, teens who drink may make poor decisions like driving under the influence or routinely skipping school.

We Make Recovery a Reality for Teens and their Families

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teen drug remains on a promising decline. Still, the number of adolescents who need professional mental and behavioral health treatment is too high.

At ARCH Academy, we reach teen boys aged 14 through 17 with a blend of academics, adventure and recovery skills. We also provide family services that allow everyone to heal together. To learn more about our unique programming, please reach out to us today.