Reports of lifetime use of synthetic human growth hormone (hGH) without a prescription has more than doubled since 2012 among teens, while alcohol consumption has significantly decreased and marijuana use has remained steady, states a new study from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
The 25th annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) surveyed 3,705 teenagers in grades 9–12 and 750 parents on use, perceptions of risk, and attitudes towards performance-enhancing substances (synthetic hGH and steroids), marijuana, alcohol, prescription drug abuse and misuse, over-the-counter cough medicine abuse, and other substance abuse. While only 5% of teens reporting ever having used hGH in 2012, 11% noted having ever used hGH in the 2013 survey. Use of hGH was not statistically different among males and females (12% vs. 9%, respectively) but African-American and Hispanic teens were more likely to report use of hGH at least once in their lifetime (15% and 13%, respectively). In addition, use of steroids increased from 5% in 2009 to 7% in 2013. More than half of parents stated that they had discussed use of steroids or other performance-enhancing substances (PES) with their teens, only 3% believed that their child had ever used one of these substances.
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Use of marijuana at least once within their lifetime, within the past year, within the past month, and at least 20 times within the past month has remained steady over the past five years (44%, 36%, 24%, and 7%, respectively). Past-year alcohol use declined from 57% in 2012 to 51% in 2013 and past-month alcohol use dropped from 39% in 2009 to 35% in 2013.
The key findings from the survey, particularly those regarding hGH, highlight the need for greater government regulation of “fitness-enhancing” over-the-counter supplement labels that imply the inclusion of synthetic hGH in the formula.
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