Good News Parent You are Doing Something Right! Teen Drug and Alcohol Use Downward Trend
A new Monitoring the Future, MTF , study shows the downward trend in teen drug and alcohol use continues. The MTF survey measures drug use and attitudes among eighth, 10th, and 12th graders, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the NIH, found:
- In the past year use of any illicit drug was the lowest in the survey’s history for eighth graders,
- Use of illicit drugs other than marijuana is down from recent peaks in all three grades.
- Marijuana use in the past month among eighth graders dropped significantly in 2016 to 5.4 percent, from 6.5 percent in 2015.
- Daily use among eighth graders dropped in 2016 to 0.7 percent from 1.1 percent in 2015.
- Among high school seniors, 22.5 percent report past month marijuana use and 6 percent report daily use; both measures remained relatively stable from last year.
- Rates of marijuana use in the past year among 10th graders also remained stable compared to 2015, but are at their lowest levels in over two decades.
The survey also shows that there continues to be a higher rate of marijuana use among 12th graders in states with medical marijuana laws, compared to states without them.in 2016, 38.3 percent of high school seniors in states with medical marijuana laws reported past year marijuana use, compared to 33.3 percent in non-medical marijuana states.
The survey indicates that marijuana and e-cigarettes are more popular than regular tobacco cigarettes. The past month rates among 12th graders are 12.4 percent for e-cigarettes and 10.5 percent for cigarettes. A large drop in the use of tobacco cigarettes was seen in all three grades, with a long-term decline from their peak use more than two decades ago.
Alcohol and Teens
There has been a similar decline in the use of alcohol, with the rate of teens reporting they have “been drunk” in the past year at the survey’s lowest rates ever:
- 37.3 percent of 12th graders reported they have been drunk at least once,
- down from a peak of 53.2 percent in 2001.
Opioids Use in Teens
Although non-medical use of prescription opioids remains a serious issue in the adult population, teen use of prescription opioid pain relievers is trending downwards among 12th graders with a 45 percent drop in past year use compared to five years ago. For example, only 2.9 percent of high school seniors reported past year misuse of the pain reliever Vicodin in 2016, compared to nearly 10 percent a decade ago.
“Clearly our public health prevention efforts, as well as policy changes to reduce availability, are working to reduce teen drug use, especially among eighth graders,” said Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of NIDA. “However, when 6 percent of high school seniors are using marijuana daily, and new synthetics are continually flooding the illegal marketplace, we cannot be complacent. We also need to learn more about how teens interact with each other in this social media era, and how those behaviors affect substance use rates.”
The MTF survey, the only large-scale federal youth survey on substance use that releases findings the same year the data is collected, has been conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor since 1975.
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