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Decline In Teen Marijuana Use Faltering

December 12, 2008

Drug use in U.S. teens has failed to continue declining, and researchers are worried their abuse of prescription drugs and marijuana remains strong.

The University of Michigan researchers conducted the annual survey of U.S. teen drug use, and found continuing declines in cigarette smoking and alcohol use.

Researchers said marijuana is the most commonly used of the illegal drugs. Its use had been in a slow but steady decline this decade, but that seemed to stop this year.

The survey found 11 percent of eighth graders, 24 percent of 10th graders, and 32 percent of 12th graders reported using the drug in the prior year.

In total, 47 percent of 12th graders, 34 percent of 10th graders and 20 percent of eighth graders reported ever having used an illicit drug, the researchers said.

However, the annual survey has shown an overall downward trend in teen drug use this decade.

The findings were based on responses from 46,348 students from 386 U.S. schools.

President George W. Bush noted progress on the issue during his presidency.

“No question there’s still work to do in America, but we are making progress. And one way to note the progress is this statistic — since 2001, teen-age use has declined by 25 percent. That means 900,000 fewer teens on drugs.”

The survey found amphetamine use reached its recent peak in the 1990s but has fallen by about half since then. Also declining this decade is Ritalin abuse. This year’s survey found 3.4 percent of 12th graders reported having used it for non-medical purposes in the past year.

Researchers noted reassuring news that methamphetamine, often called “meth,” has been falling since its use was first tracked in the survey in 1999. Also, crystal methamphetamine use also declined to its lowest level since a recent peak in 2002.

The survey detected declines in cocaine use, but the same could not be said for cocaine use. The results showed little change in teen use of LSD and other hallucinogens, ecstasy and heroin.

Image Courtesy UPI

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