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Monitoring the Future: The Latest Trends in Substance Abuse

Staying informed about the latest trends in teen drug use is one of the most important roles the National Institute on Drug Abuse plays. The latest survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and named the 2013 Monitoring the Future study, examined substance abuse in 8th, 10th and 12th graders in schools around the nation.

The Good News

The good news is that alcohol and nicotine abuse continued to decline in 2013. Nearly 40 percent of high school seniors, 26 percent of 10th graders, and 10 percent of 8th graders reported using alcohol last year. In the early 1990s, those age groups had a statistic higher than 50 percent. This shows that alcohol abuse is declining, and cigarette use is also down sharply — only 16 percent of high school seniors reported that they abused nicotine.

Bad News

Unfortunately, marijuana use is rising sharply among our most vulnerable population. As more and more states start to legalize this harmful drug for both medicinal and recreational purposes, the perceived risks of the drug are reduced. In 2013, over 36 percent of respondents admitted using marijuana within the past 30 days. That’s about 11 students in the average class, according to the NIDA report. This is a significant increase from 1993 — when about 26 percent of students admitted to smoking pot — and correlates closely with perceived harm. As students believe marijuana is safer than other drugs, the more they are likely to abuse it. Although marijuana is by far the most abused drug among adolescents, it is not the only drug they are abusing. The second most popular drug is the extremely dangerous synthetic substance called K2 or Spice; this drug has caused several well publicized public health problems across the country. Next on the list are ADHD drug Adderall, painkiller Vicodin, cough and cold medicines, tranquilizers and ecstasy.


If you are the parent of an adolescent, discuss the dangers of drug abuse regularly. For more information on talking to your teen about drug and alcohol abuse, contact The Ranch PA.

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