At Last! Some Positive Information About Teens and Young Adults and Their Substance Use

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When it comes to substance abuse, we certainly hear a fair amount of negativity in the news. More kids are smoking pot, more people are abusing prescription drugs, and many more have gone for a cheaper and more easily available option: Heroin. We very rarely hear any good news about drug related trends, especially when it comes to the younger members of society who in many cases have been written off as productive members of society because of their experimental nature and the fact that they make up a huge portion of people becoming addicted to a wide variety of illegal and legal substances. The University of Michigan, however, has had a project known as Monitoring the Future for decades, and they are pleased to announce that the use of alcohol and illicit drugs has declined among teens in America. In fact, alcohol use is at it’s lowest point since this tracking project began in 1975. This project is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and is an ongoing information system that evaluates the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American teens and young adults. A demographic that are well known for taking, abusing and becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Approximately 50,000 8th, 10th and 12th grade students are surveyed each year—12th graders since 1975, and 8th and 10th graders since 1991. In addition, annual follow-up questionnaires are mailed to a sample of each graduating class for a number of years after their initial participation. All three grades showed a decline in the proportion of students reporting any alcohol use in the 12 months prior to the survey; the three grades combined dropped from 43 percent to 41 percent, a statistically significant change and a large drop from the peak rate of 61 percent in 1997.

The study has also focused on a problem that affects many teenagers. It’s called binge drinking and it too is in steady decline among teens and young adults. Unfortunately nearly 20% of 12th graders reported on the survey that they had in fact been binge drinking leading up to the point where they answered the survey.

It seems that marijuana use, a preferred drug to many teens, is also on the decline. Synthetic pot which shares some basic properties with real pot, has gone down by half in recent years. Which is great news as it is far more harmful than regular marijuana. It is impressive to see that this particular substance is on the decline, despite the fact that many teens can access it so easily in stores.

Narcotic drugs other than heroin—among the most dangerous of the prescription drugs—have been declining in use by 12th graders since 2009, when 9 percent indicated using them without medical supervision in the prior 12 months. Their use continued to drop significantly, from 7 percent in 2013 to 6 percent in 2014.

This decline in substance use is absolutely inspiring, and excellent to hear that our youth may finally be benefiting from drug education. Teens and young adults who listen to their parents and teachers about drugs seem to now be making better choices about drugs as all these statistics have shown us.

Here are the highlights regarding teen and young adult drug use:

  • Past 30 Day Use of Alcohol dropped from 68.6 percent in 2009 to 56.1 percent in 2013
  • Past 30 Day Use of Marijuana dropped from 42.8 percent in 2009 to 38.6 percent in 2013
  • Past 30 Day Use of Prescription Pain Medication dropped from 11.4 percent in 2009 to 1.4 percent in 2013



At Last! Some Positive Information About Teens and Young Adults and Their Substance Use