Student Drug Use & Substance Abuse Surveys | Goals & Purpose

Posted on

An In-Depth Look at Student Drug Use & Substance Abuse Surveys

Substance use and abuse by students has been a national issue for decades due to the impact that it has on students and learning. It’s no surprise that school surveys specifically designed to measure student behaviors and attitudes towards drugs have been in use for several decades.

Just as different generations of students have different opinions and worldviews, their perceptions about and use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs change over time due to shifting social norms. The surveys used to collect this data also have to adapt to changes in the culture and new substances as they surface.

Here’s an in-depth look at the types of student drug use and substance abuse surveys being used in schools and communities across the nation today.

The Goals & Purpose of School Substance Abuse Questionnaires


The primary purpose of this type of school survey is to collect comprehensive, accurate, and reliable information about attitudes towards and usage trends regarding student drug use and substance abuse. The ultimate goal is to use this data to make improvements in specific or general areas in the school and the student body.

In short, student drug use surveys serve a critical need in the educational environment, because they offer schools and decision-makers a wealth of information that enables them to:

  • • Identify trends and patterns
  • • Identify priority issues
  • • Make informed funding decisions
  • • Develop and evaluate effective policy and programs
  • • Empower youth
  • • Reduce costs, improve youth outcomes, and strengthen communities[1]


What Student Drug Use Surveys Measure


School drug use and substance abuse surveys are crafted to measure perceptions about and rates of student use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. There are many different aspects of this, and some of the specific factors involved that surveys measure include:

  • • Incidence of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use (ATOD)
  • • Where ATOD used
  • • When ATOD used
  • • Perceived availability of ATOD
  • • Perceived risk of drugs
  • • Tolerance for drug use
  • • Friends’ drug use
  • • Perception of friends’ disapproval regarding ATOD
  • • Perception of parents’ disapproval regarding ATOD
  • • Risk and protective factors: individual, family, school, and community
  • • Drug use and violent behaviors at school and outside school
  • • Source & accessibility of drugs, cigarettes, weapons[2][3]


Some surveys may be highly specific, focusing on a specific drug or substance, a specific age group, or both. For example, a middle school concerned about a rise in cigarette use among students might measure perceptions about and use of tobacco products for their 7th-grade classes over time. Conversely, other surveys might be more general, concentrating on both general and specific information about substance use. For example, a large high school might be concerned about a variety of drug use issues among it students, so administrators choose a measure that assesses beliefs about and use of everything from alcohol and tobacco products to prescription medications and illicit drugs.

As a result, the types of questions addressed in a student substance abuse survey can vary widely from measure to measure and school to school. However, sample questions that might appear on a survey include:

    • • Within the past year, how often have you used tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, dip, etc.)?
    • • How many times in the past year have you been drunk or high at school?
    • • How wrong do your friends feel it would be for you to use prescription drugs not prescribed to you?
    • • How wrong do your parents feel it would be for you to smoke marijuana?[4]


The Importance of School Substance Abuse Surveys


While adolescents are certainly not the only demographic group to face issues of substance use and abuse, “data repeatedly shows that students and youth more commonly use alcohol and drugs than any other age group.”[5] This prevalence is highly problematic for a number of reasons.

First, a large body of research has identified a negative correlation between drug use and school performance.[6][7][8] Additionally, students under the influence of cognitively impairing substances are less able to effectively learn and are at risk of long-term and permanent impairment of memory and cognitive ability.[9][10] Finally, student drug use is “correlated with antisocial and violent behavior, such as bringing guns and knives to school, as well as other risk-taking behaviors.”[11]

Many Schools use these surveys as a way to apply for additional funding. Once you know there is an issue surrounding a negative behavior there is grant funding that will provide the school with resources to address those issues and fund future surveys.

These surveys are incredibly important to both schools and communities because they “provide essential information about the prevalence and harms associated with substance use among youth who attend school.”[12]

Choosing a Student Drug Use Survey for Your School


Clearly, substance abuse surveys are an impactful and reliable way for schools to measure and address student drug use. There are many different questionnaires available today, but it’s important to note that not all surveys are created equal. Your school needs a measure that is valid, reliable, tested, and anonymous, among other things. This can make choosing the right student survey a difficult process. However, partnering with a proven, experienced surveying company can make the process faster, easier, and even more affordable.

At Pride Surveys, we have been helping schools survey their students for over thirty years. We can work with you to find the best questionnaire for your needs and your budget, enabling you to meet your goals, improve your school climate, and better serve your students and communities.

Ready to get started? Give us a call at 800-279-6361 or fill out our quick online contact form.

[1]The Value of Student Alcohol and Drug Use Surveys. December 2013. Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. Retrieved from on October 20, 2016.

[2]The Risk and Protective Factor Student Survey. Pride Surveys. Retrieved from on October 19, 2016.

[3]The Pride Survey for Grades 4-6. Pride Surveys. Retrieved from on October 19, 2016.

[4]Risk and Protective Factor Questionnaire for Grades 6-12. Pride Surveys. Retrieved from on October 19, 2016.

[5]Student Drug Use. Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. Retrieved from on October 20, 2016.

[6]Sanders CE, Field TM, Diego MA. Adolescents’ academic expectations and achievement. Adolescence. 2001; 36:795– 802.

[7]Rivers WL. Is there a relationship between drug use and academic achievement? J Sch Health. 1981; 51:171– 173.

[8]Misra RK. Achievement, anxiety, and addiction. NIDA Res Monogr. 1980; 30: 212– 214.

[9]Goode E. Drug use and grades in college. Nature. 1971; 234:225– 227.

[10]Pope HG Jr., Yurgelun-Todd D. The residual cognitive effects of heavy marijuana use in college students. JAMA. 1996; 275:521– 527.

[11]The Role of Schools in Combating Illicit Substance Abuse. December 2007. Council on School Health and Committee on Substance Abuse. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved from on October 20, 2016.

[12]Student Drug Use. Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. Retrieved from on October 20, 2016.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)