Study finds that U.S. teens prefer marijuana and vaping as smoking, drinking and drug abuse decline
According to an annual nationwide survey, drinking, smoking and drug abuse have been declining among American teenagers, in some cases falling to the lowest levels seen in decades. The survey revealed that about 1 in 3 middle and high school students surveyed in 2017 said they had used some kind of illicit drug sometime in their life, which two decades ago was at 43 percent. Of the 45,000 students surveyed, 17 percent said they smoked cigarettes at least once, and 26 percent said they had been drunk. However, a notable exception to this trend is marijuana use, which has remained steady in terms of the proportion of teens who said they had tried it. Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, stated,
The rates of drug use among teenagers in our country are the lowest they’ve ever been for some drugs. I think if we did not have all these changes in policy and norms, we would have seen a decrease in marijuana use just like we would have seen in other drugs.
Vaping appears to have replaced cigarettes as the primary nicotine delivery device for teens. Vaping is also becoming a common form of marijuana use. Hardly any teens said they had ever vaped marijuana in 2016’s survey, but in last year’s survey 10 percent of 12th graders, eight percent of 10th graders and three percent of 8th graders said they had done so. Initiatives that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use in many states appear to be a factor behind its rising popularity among teens. The study revealed that high school seniors were more likely to consume edible marijuana products in states where medical marijuana was legal (16.7 percent) than in states where it wasn’t (8.3 percent).
The students surveyed came from 380 middle and high schools across the nation who participated in the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study. The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and has been tracking the use of cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and other illicit substances by students in the 8th, 10th and 12th graders since 1975. The full report on the surveys conducted last year will be published by the end of this April. We will have to wait and see what else is revealed when the full report is published.