Fewer Teens Abusing Narcotics and Alcohol, but E-Cigarette Rates High

Fewer Teens Abusing Narcotics and Alcohol, but E-Cigarette Rates High
Fewer Teens Abusing Narcotics and Alcohol, but E-Cigarette Rates High

Use of cigarettes, alcohol and prescription pain drugs for non-medical use by teenagers have declined since 2013, although rates of e-cigarette use among this population is concerning. These statistics were released in the 2014 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

A total of 41,551 students from 377 public and private schools participated in this year's survey, which has been administered since 1975 to measure drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes in 12th graders nationwide; 8th and 10th graders were added to the survey participant pool in 1991. The results include the following:

  • Past month use of smoked marijuana remained steady among eighth graders at 6.5%, 10th graders at 16.6%, and 12th graders at 21.2% compared to 2013. Nearly 6% of 12th graders reported daily marijuana use and 40% of 12th graders residing in states with medical marijuana laws had consumed marijuana in food products (edibles) in the past year vs. 26% in non-medical marijuana states. However, past year use of MDMA, inhalants, synthetic marijuana, salvia, amphetamine-like stimulants, and alcohol all dropped.
  • Abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications continued to decline, with 6.1% of 12th graders reporting use of narcotics (including opioid analgesics) other than heroin in 2014 compared to 7.1% in 2013. Use of hydrocodone/acetaminophen (APAP) in the past year showed a significant five-year drop, as 4.8% of 12th graders used it for non-medical reasons vs. 9.7% in 2009. Use of cough/cold medicines containing dextromethorphan (DXM) among eighth graders was down to 2% from 3.8% in 2009. Non-medical use of Adderall remained steady, at 6.8% for 12 graders; most reported that they obtained this medication from friends or relatives and, to a lesser degree, their own prescriptions.
  • For the first time, use of e-cigarettes was also measured. Past-month use by eighth graders was 8.7%, 16.2% for 10th graders, and 17.1% for 12th graders. Daily cigarette smoking dropped to 1.4% for eighth graders, 3.2% for 10th graders, and 6.7% for 12th graders. This reflects a decrease of nearly 50% across all grades compared to five years ago.

RELATED: CDC: Stronger Laws on E-Cigarette Sales, Exposure to Minors Needed

These findings may indicate that prevention efforts are having a positive effect, but the public health community needs to continue education efforts about the specific harms of drug use among teens, stated NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, MD.

For more information visit NIH.gov.

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