2011 brought some interesting news from American teens. Daily cigarette smoking and binge drinking among American teenagers declined over the past year, but pot smoking and the abuse of prescription drugs remain a problem.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) announced the survey findings which found that daily cigarette use has continued to drop in the past year: 2% of 8th graders, 6% of 10th graders, and 10% of 12th graders reported daily smoking.
Alcohol use and binge drinking rates also dropped significantly in teens over the last 5 years.
What we swapped this for was an increase in the use of marijuana among teens which climbed in 2011 for the fourth straight year. In 2011, 12% of 8th graders, 29% of 10th graders, and 36% of 12th graders reported past-year use of marijuana. In the past 5-years there have been increases in daily, current, and past-year marijuana use by 10th and 12th graders.
These increases are believed to be because of the decline in the perceived risk associated with marijuana use.
“Spice” or K2, a synthetic marijuana, was also more common among high school seniors. Just this year the DEA deemed many of the chemicals used in K2 as unsafe, and at least 18 states have banned synthetic marijuana.
The tragedy of 2011 is that prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications account for most of the drugs abused by 12th grade students in the past year. Levels of OxyContin, amphetamine (Adderall, etc.) and Vicodin abuse increased. With good news, comes some bad news.