Rates of Alcohol, Tobacco Use Down Among U.S. Teens

Rates of Alcohol, Tobacco Use
Rates of Alcohol, Tobacco Use

(HealthDay News) — The percentage of youth ages 12–17 who smoke, drink, or abuse certain drugs is falling, according to 2014 survey data released Thursday by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The annual government survey involves about 67,500 Americans aged ≥12. According to the survey, the rate at which youth between 12–17 said they had drank alcohol over the prior month has fallen from 17.6% in 2002 to 11.5% by 2014. While 3.2% of teens said they had abused opioids in 2002, the rate had fallen to 1.9% by 2014. Rates of smoking and other tobacco use are dropping precipitously as well, from 15.2% of 12- to 17-year-olds in 2002 to just 7% by 2014.

However, more teens are using marijuana. The number is up from 9.4% of children aged 12–17 in 2013, to 10.2% a year later. In a statement, SAMHSA attributed the rise, in part, to "the increase in adult marijuana use." Even more troubling, the new report found that the rate at which teens under 18 used heroin rose from 0.1% in 2013 to 0.2% in 2014.

"We know that evidence-based prevention efforts are the most effective way to reduce drug use and to support the roughly 90% of American youth who do not use illicit drugs," Michael Botticelli, the White House's Director of National Drug Control Policy, said in a SAMHSA news release.

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