University of Michigan Reports Drug & Alcohol Use Down Among Teens

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University of Michigan Report Drug & Alcohol Use Down Among Teens

University of Michigan researchers, funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, have been running a survey since 1975 which monitors teenage attitudes about drug and alcohol use.

The 2015 annual Monitoring the Future survey consists of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students, and reported that substance abuse among teens is reportedly stabilized or has decreased in most categories.

Apparently, the cool kids are a bit wiser than they once were – teenagers as a whole are smoking less, drinking less, and using less prescription painkillers and synthetic marijuana.

Opioids and Heroin Use Down

On a very bright note, the survey reveals that the recreation use of prescription opioids, such as Vicodin, continues to decline. At 4.4%, that is over a 50% decreased from peak use in 2003. While most teenagers who use these drugs admit getting them from peers or family members, as many as 1/3 claim they are using their own prescriptions. This fact underscores the need for close monitoring of teen prescription painkiller use by their physicians.

Heroin use also appeared to be declining. This is unlike most other age categories, in which heroin use and overdoses are at an all-time high. In fact, for teens, heroin use is reportedly at an all-time low, at only .3% for 8th graders, and .5% for 10th and 12th grades.

Alcohol Use Down

Falling to just 5% among 8th graders was binge-drinking. 10th graders reported binge drinking at 11%, while 12th graders reported 17%. These numbers were down across the board. Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of 5 or more drinking on at least one occasion in the past two weeks.

Extreme binge drinking also decreased, which is defined as at least 10 or more drinks on at least one occasion in a two week span. Peer disapproval of alcohol use has been steadily decreasing, however, it did not decrease in 2015.

Marijuana Use Remains Stable

Marijuana use, however, has not declined. In fact, researchers discovered that high school seniors smoke marijuana more than tobacco on a regular basis.

Researchers said one area of concern is marijuana use. Every day use remains at 6% — and for the first time, it is more popular than smoking cigarettes among 12th graders. Apparently, teenagers view marijuana as less risky than they once did – just under 32% of 12th grade students stated that regular use could be problematic, down from over 36% last year.

This may be due to generally changing attitudes about marijuana use – including widespread legalization of medical marijuana, and in a few cases, decriminalization or legalization of recreational use. But in fact, while marijuana may be the lesser of two evils in many situations, it still can pose harm on the developing brains of youth.

You can read the entire report in .pdf format at the Monitoring the Future website here.

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

Related: Wisconsin Tax Dollars Spend on Illegal Drugs During Busts

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