Teen Use Of Cigarettes And Alcohol Down But Marijuana Use Is Up
December 15, 2011

Teen Use Of Cigarettes And Alcohol Down But Marijuana Use Is Up

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According to NIDA's 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey, cigarette and alcohol use by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders is on the decline while the same study shows marijuana and prescription drug use among teens is rising.

While cigarette use is on the decline, teens are going to other forms of tobacco, like small cigars and hookah´s, to get their nicotine fix.

NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow said: "That cigarette use has declined to historically low rates is welcome news, given our concerns that declines may have slowed or stalled in recent years. That said, the teen smoking rate is declining much more slowly than in years past, and we are seeing teens consume other tobacco products at high levels. This highlights the urgency of maintaining strong prevention efforts against teen smoking and of targeting other tobacco products.”

The survey shows that 18.7 percent of 12th graders used cigarettes in the last month compared to 36.5 percent in 1997 and 6.1 percent of 8th graders smoke compared to a peak of 21 percent in 1996 and 8.7 percent in 2006. While cigarette use is down, more needs to be done to accelerate the decline of tobacco use among teens.

Alcohol among teens is also down with 63.5 percent of 12th graders reporting use in the last year with a recent peak of 74.8 percent used in 1997. Meanwhile 26.9 percent of 8th graders used alcohol in the past year compared to a peak of 46.8 percent reported in 1994. Binge drinking, reported as having five or more drinks in a row, also shows declines with 6.4 percent of 8th graders, 14.7 percent of 10th graders and 21.6 percent of 12th graders compared to the 2006 rates of 8.7 percent, 19.9 percent and 25.4 percent respectively.

Marijuana use among teens is on the increase, despite the downward trends of alcohol and cigarette use. Among 12th graders the percentage went from 31.5 percent reporting past year use and 5 percent using daily to 36.4 percent reporting past year use and 6.6 percent reporting daily use.

The increased use of marijuana shows that teens don´t see smoking it as a high risk activity. The survey showed that 22.7 percent of high school seniors saw great risk in smoking marijuana compared to 25.9 percent five years ago.

Besides marijuana there are synthetic forms of the drug easily available from smoke shops that are currently legal in some states to purchase. The survey for the first time included teen reactions to K2 and spice. The reported past year use was 11.4 percent of 12th graders.

Gil Kerlikowske, the director of National Drug Control Policy said: “K2 and spice are dangerous drugs that can cause serious harm. We will continue to work with the public health and safety community to respond to this emerging threat but in the meantime, parents must take action. Parents are the most powerful force in the lives of young people and we ask that all of them talk to their teens today about the serious consequences of using marijuana, K2 or spice.”

Prescription drug abuse among teens was a mixed bag with the survey showing Vicodin use among teens was down with 8.1 percent of 12th graders reporting use compared to 9.7 percent in 2009. But Oxycontin did not show declines.

Monitoring the Future is an annual survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders by researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a section of the National Institutes of Health.


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