OxyContin Abuse, Misuse of Opioids and Alcohol Down Among Teens, Survey Finds

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OxyContin Abuse, Misuse of Opioids and Alcohol Down Among Teens, Survey Finds

The latest results of an annual nationwide survey from the University of Michigan reveals that Vicodin and OxyContin abuse among American high school seniors has continued to fall and that prescription opioids have become more difficult for adolescents to obtain.

For the University’s yearly Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, which is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) nearly 44,000 students were asked about drug and alcohol use.

In general, the number of teenagers who reported drinking, using drugs, and smoking tobacco was the lowest since the 1990s, except marijuana use, which spiked sharply in 2017.

As it turns out, while the opioid epidemic wages on – a crisis that is still killing tens of thousands each year – abuse of painkillers by teens has been falling at a steady pace for more than a decade.

The survey also found that 4.5% of seniors used narcotics “other than heroin” in the past year, falling from 9.4% in 2002.

Less than 39% of 12th graders said the drugs were easily obtainable in 2017, a drop from over 54% in 2010. Vicodin abuse continued to fall to under 3% of seniors, a considerable decrease from 10.5% in 2003. Reported use of Oxycontin also fell.

Norah Volkow, MD, and director of NIDA:

“We’re observing some of the lowest rates of opioid use that we have been monitoring through the survey. So that’s very good news. The decline in both the misuse and perceived availability of opioid medications may reflect recent public health initiatives to discourage opioid misuse to address this crisis.”

Binge drinking leveled off after years of decline, with just under 17% of 12th-grade students reporting five or more drinks in one sitting in the past week, versus 31.5% in 1998.

However, marijuana use among adolescents increased between 2010-2017, from just 1.3% to 24% in 2017.

The survey also asked students about vaping, and found that almost 28% of seniors reported using a vaping device in 2017. Just over half stated they inhaled “flavoring,” about one-third inhaled nicotine, and 11% said they inhaled marijuana or hash.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology



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