What Teens Think

During our focus groups, we asked teens how they access substances and the cultural norms around substance use. Here’s what they had to say.


  • Taken from what is stored in their homes;
  • At parties that occur frequently;
  • Purchased for them by known older adults such as siblings, college-aged friends, or staff at local stores;
  • From peers with fake identification;
  • At concerts or other social events; and
  • At home with parent/guardian supervision.


  • Through peers inside and outside of school;
  • Form older siblings or friends with a medical marijuana card;
  • At dispensaries known for not checking identification; and
  • From strangers using publicly (places such as at concerts or parks).

Prescription medications:

  • From medicine cabinets at home;
  • Obtained easily from peers (Adderall was mentioned often);
  • “Pharm Parties”; and
  • Youth can lie about symptoms to obtain prescription from doctor.

Participants felt that alcohol was an issue because it’s easy to get and commonly used. Parties often have large quantities of alcohol, often every weekend, and it’s normal for everyone there to drink.

Due to its legalization in Colorado, youth felt that marijuana was more socially acceptable to use.

Prescription drugs are not as common or accepted because their use is not as social. Many associated the substance with someone who has an addiction.

To read the full report, click here.

“I think it’s kind of a big issue just because it’s so easy to get a hold of [alcohol] and anyone can do it. It’s not like only a specific person can do it. Anybody could do it if they really wanted to.”