Teen Use of Many Drugs Drops to Record Lows

Teen Use of Many Drugs Drops to Record Lows

That's down from just over 50 percent in the early 2000s, when the rate peaked. For example, 22.5 percent of high school seniors reported using pot within the past month, and 6 percent reported daily use - roughly the same as previous year.

The "Monitoring the Future" study, released Tuesday by the government's National Institute on Drug Abuse, found rates of each behavior have dropped among today's teens after peaking in the 1990s and 2000s.

Rates of marijuana use also dropped among eighth and 10th graders. This year, only 1.8 percent of students surveyed reported smoking a half pack or more of cigarettes per day, with 10.5 percent said they had smoked at least once within the last month.

Marijuana use declined among students in grades 8 and 10, and remained flat among Grade 12 students, the survey found.

The somewhat surprising result comes on the heels of eight states and the District of Columbia voting to legalize sales of marijuana to adults, moves that many predicted would lead to increased usage among teens and young adults.

The use of alcohol has seen similar declines, according to the research, with 37.3 percent of 12th graders reporting this year that they had been drunk at least once, down from a peak of 53.2 percent in 2001.

This highlights the importance of understanding how policy issues, such as marijuana legalization, influence drug use, Volkow said.

However, older teens continued to use marijuana at about the same rate. Daily use among eighth graders dropped in 2016 to 0.7 percent from 1.1 percent in 2015.

Nonmedical use of all opioid pain relievers among 12th-graders during the past year is at 4.8 percent, down significantly from a peak of 9.5 percent in 2004.

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Only a quarter of 12th-graders think their vaporizers contain nicotine, the addictive ingredient in tobacco, with 62.8 percent claiming they contain "just flavoring".

The survey found a decline in the use of alcohol by teens, as well.

"There may be a protective effect brought about by the fact that they don't have so many occasions to get together where the use of drugs would be facilitated", she said, adding that she doesn't yet have hard data to support this idea.

Use of illicit drugs other than marijuana is at its lowest level in the history of the survey for all three grades.

Vaping - the use of electronic cigarettes - had been one area of concern in recent years.

Additionally, alcohol use has also dropped, reaching a new low.

"The development of very, very fancy video games has resulted in a pattern of compulsive use of these games that may serve as a substitute for drug-taking", Volkow said.

"That is very big good fortune, and really I don't think we as a field or society more generally have spent as much time as we should have celebrating and reflecting on why today's kids are so great in this regard", noted Jonathan Caulkins, a drug policy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University.

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