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Use of alcohol and illicit drugs during adolescent development can have negative effects on cognitive functioning and mental health. The purpose of this cross sectional study was to examine grade level, sex, athletic affiliation, and ethnicity as they relate to substance-using attitudes to isolate the period in which shifts in attitudes toward substance use in adolescents occur. The social learning theory provided the framework for the study. Participants included 276 high school students from a midsized Midwestern city. Students in the ninth, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades who participated in the study were asked to complete a brief electronic survey designed to assess attitudes toward substance use, which was administered during a free study period. Survey questions were drawn from the Attitude Scale on the Substance Abuse Screening Inventory for Adolescents. An ANOVA was run using the multiple independent variables taken from the survey to examine the differences between each of the independent variables, grade level, athletic status, sex, and ethnicity on the dependent variable of attitudes. There were overall significant differences found for favorable attitudes towards substance use among the Grade levels ninth, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades at the p < 0.001 level [F(3, 272) = 6.933, p =.001]. Further analysis was conducted and significant differences were found between ninth graders and 11th graders in their attitudes towards substance use and between ninth graders and 12th graders in their attitudes towards substance use. The greater significant difference occurred between ninth graders and 12th graders. The findings from this study can be used to assist educators in the creation of developmentally appropriate curricula that could act as an intervention to the onset of substance use.