Teen Marijuana Use Is Up, Smoking Down
One in nine high school seniors has used marijuana in the last year, while slightly more than 10% say they smoke daily, down from nearly 25% in 1997, according to the annual Monitoring the Future study. The National Institute on Drug Abuse sponsors the study and the University of Michigan conducts it. Among the study's findings:
• Marijuana use among teens rose in 2011 for the fourth straight year — a sharp contrast to the considerable decline that had occurred in the preceding decade. Daily marijuana use is now at a 30-year peak level among high school seniors. Tenth grader marijuana use now exceeds cigarette smoking. About 25% of 8th, 10th and 12th graders used marijuana in 2011, up from about 21% in 2007.
• “Synthetic marijuana,” known as “K2” and “spice,” which until earlier this year was legally sold, was added to the study’s coverage in 2011. One in every nine high school seniors (11.4%) reported using that drug in the prior 12 months.
• Alcohol use and occasions of heavy drinking continued a long-term gradual decline among teens, reaching historically low levels in 2011From 1991 to 2011, the proportion of 8th graders reporting any use of alcohol in the prior 30 days has fallen by about half (from 25% to 13%), among 10th graders by more than one third (from 43% to 27%), and among 12th graders by about one fourth (from 54% to 40%).
• Energy drinks are being consumed by about one third of teens, with use highest among younger teens.
• Smoking decreased in all three grades in the study — grades 8, 10, and 12. The proportion saying that they smoked at all in the prior 30 days fell significantly, from 12.8% in 2010 to 11.7% this year. Peak smoking levels among teens were reached in 1996-1997. Since then, the proportions of students smoking in the month prior to the annual survey has fallen by 71%, 61%, and 49% in grades 8, 10, and 12, respectively.
• Abuse of prescription drugs remained mostly unchanged. Use of the painkiller Vicodin dropped among sophomores, but remained unchanged — but at levels considered high — among seniors. OxyContin use has remained steady for all three grades over the last five years. Amphetamine use is up among seniors. There was a considerable drop in the number of 8th graders abusing over-the-counter cough medications.