Click on specific names on the left to view a quick-facts report on individual drugs.
Utah Drug Trends
Southern Utah Drug Trends
This chart shows the top substances of abuse in the Southwest Five Counties of Utah, (Washington, Garfield, Beaver, Iron and Kane), and the trend pattern of youth use from 2007 to 2023. The data is an average of all grades, 6-12th.
The first thing you should note when looking at this chart is that drug use rates are low in Southern Utah. Even our most widely used drugs are still being used regularly by less than 10% of youth. Most kids don't use drugs.
Nicotine: As the chart demonstrates, the most common drug of abuse among Southern Utah youth is nicotine, inhaled through electronic cigarettes or vaporizers, and is slightly increasing with traditional combustible cigarettes. E-cig rates are coming down a little since 2019, largely a result of targeted prevention efforts, including increases on regulation at the state level.
Alcohol: Though alcohol use rates have continually dropped overall since 2007, we saw a slight increase in use from 2019 - 2021. Traditionally, alcohol was always the most common drug abused in Southern Utah, until 2015, when nicotine through E-Cigarettes far surpassed it, and the increase in marijuana passed alcohol use in 2019, but just just lower in 2021.
Marijuana: Marijuana use has continually increased since 2007. Changes in perception of the dangers and harms of this drug have given youth a relaxed attitudes about marijuana, and they are using more than we have seen in the past. In some Southern Utah communities, more youth smoke marijuana than drink alcohol. And in almost all of our communities, more youth smoke marijuana than tobacco.
Tobacco Cigarettes: Traditional tobacco cigarette use has been on a steady decline in Southern Utah. However, new research shows that "21.5% of Utah youth who tried e-cigs reported that they smoked regular cigarettes for the first time after starting with e-cigs," (Utah Department of Health, 2012), meaning that e-cigs or vaporizers are a new gateway to traditional cigarettes. This may help explain the slight increase in combustible cigarettes in 2021.
Prescription Drugs: Although prescription drug abuse has dropped in many of our counties, in some locations certain prescription drug abuse continues to rise, with a slight increase overall from 2019-2021. For example, prescription narcotics (pain relievers) are abused less than they were six years ago, but prescription stimulants (like ADHD and asthma medications) and sedatives (like sleeping pills and anxiety medications) are abused more.
Inhalants: Though the chart above shows that inhalant use is very low, when looking at specific grade levels rates can jump significantly, and overall, you can see a sharp increase in use from 2015-2021. 8th graders abuse inhalants more than any other grade. In some schools in Southern Utah, inhalant rates among 8th graders are at nearly 10%. This age group seems to be especially vulnerable when they have access to these products. We are also seeing an increase in the number of 10th graders using inhalants.
National Drug Trends