Teen substance use shows another decline

Smoking and drinking among teens is in decline possibly because of video games and social media

Smoking and drinking among teens is in decline possibly because of video games and social media

Findings indicated that use of any illicit drug by eighth-graders in the past year was the lowest in the survey's 25-year history of measuring the group. Among high school seniors, 22.5% used the drug within the past month and 6% used it daily, essentially unchanged from a year ago, the survey showed. The report also found that the use of illegal drugs among students is at its lowest since 19-75. Students in grades 8, 10 and 12 are surveyed.

"Every time a state considers rolling back marijuana prohibition, opponents predict it will result in more teen use", says Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project.

States where medical marijuana is legal again had higher rates of daily and monthly teenage use, though it is not rising as Volkow had feared it would.

American teens are using fewer illicit drugs, with the exception of marijuana, according to a new study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Researchers now need to understand "what is driving these very significant, wonderful decreases in drug consumption patterns", so that they can be sustained, Volkow said. Similarly, rates of marijuana use in the past year among 10th graders also remained stable compared to 2015, but are at their lowest levels in over two decades.

Just 5 percent of eighth graders - typically aged 13 and 14 - said they'd used marijuana in the past month, down a percentage point from previous year.

In addition, the researchers found that marijuana use was more common among 12th graders who are living in states where medical marijuana is legal.

Yet this was in states with medical marijuana laws.

One initiative is known to have a real effect on teen substance abuse - multi-pronged and aggressive public campaigns aimed at teens, such as the ones that have led to historically low use of tobacco and alcohol, Volkow said. Federal data released late last year showed that teen use rates in Colorado and Washington were essentially flat, they covered 2014, the first year commercial cannabis was available in those states.

About a third of 10th graders have used any illicit drug and 17 percent of eighth graders have. In 2016, 0.3 percent of teens in the eighth, 10th and 12 grades reported using heroin in the past year.

A new survey conducted by 2016 Monitoring the Future has found that today's teens are less addicted to drugs than their predecessors. In 2016, 4.8 percent of 12th graders said they had used opioid pain relievers without a prescription, down from a peak of 9.5 percent in 2004.

Overall, more than 45,000 students from 372 public and private schools participated in the 2016 survey. Smokers are much more likely to become addicted to illegal drugs or alcohol after trying them, she added.

They also have managed to largely avoid the opioid epidemic that is devastating young adult communities.

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