Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use - YRBS

The questions provided by this tool come from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) which is part of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS). With versions available for middle school and high school, this survey is designed to assess priority health-risk behaviors in youth and young adults. Behaviors examined are those that are leading contributors to death, disability, and social problems in this young population, and include tobacco use, unhealthy dietary behaviors, inadequate physical activity, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV), and behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence. This tool is free and publicly available. English only.


Administration Method
Number of Questions
Creator(s) of Tool
Complete measurement tool reference: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2004). Methodology of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. MMWR 2004; 53 (No. RR-12).

Adaptation made/subset of questions selected: “During your life” was replaced with “During the past 30 days” and “how many times” was omitted. Response values were replaced with yes/no.

Complete measurement tool hyperlink:
Scoring / Benchmarking
Before analyzing the data, code answer options as follows:

A summary score can be created by summing the total number of respondents who got coded as a “1” by the total number of respondents who answered the question. This will give you the percent of respondents who have used substances in the past 30 days.

For fiscal year 2012, SAMHSA set the following performance targets for current substance use: (a) a 13 percent reduction in current substance use among middle school students from Fall to Spring of 2012; and (b) a 33 percent reduction of in current substance use among high school students from Fall to Spring of 2012 ( ). Using this guideline, a program working with high school students starting at a baseline rate of 45 percent might want to see a 15 percentage point (33 percent) reduction on this outcome by the end of the year.
Background / Quality
Other studies that use this tool include:
Santelli, J.S., Robin, L., Brener, N.D., & Lowry, R. (2001). Timing of alcohol and other drug use and sexual risk behaviors among unmarried adolescents and young adults. Family Planning Perspectives, 33, 200-205. doi:10.2307/2673782
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