Good news for all across the young adult recovery community is the discovery of a decline since 2013 in teen cigarette and alcohol use, as well as the abuse of prescription pain relievers. Stability was also recorded in rates of marijuana use. These are the positive findings of the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) 2014 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, which also measured the use of e-cigarettes for the first time.
The use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) was found to be high among American teens, with 8.7 percent of eighth graders making use of them in the past month, in addition to 16.2 percent of 10th graders and 17.1 percent of 12th graders. However, the last five years have seen significant falls – almost 50 percent – in daily cigarette use across all grades. 2.7 percent of eighth graders, for example, smoked cigarettes on a daily basis five years ago, compared to 1.4 percent of today’s eighth graders.
The poll, which was carried out by researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and measures eighth, 10th and 12th graders’ use of and attitudes towards drugs, also found steady past-month use of smoked marijuana across all three groups – at 6.5, 16.6 and 21.2 percent respectively. However, daily use of marijuana was reported by almost 6 percent of 12th graders, while the majority of high school seniors also did not consider occasional marijuana smoking to be harmful.
Elsewhere in the survey, 2014 saw a continuation in positive downward trends for prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse. 6.1 percent of high school seniors said that they had used narcotics other than heroin – this category including all opioid pain relievers – in the past year, compared to 2013’s 7.1 percent and the 9.5 percent peak recorded in 2004.
Rates of use of various illicit drugs other than marijuana were also scrutinized by the survey. There was, for instance, a fall in 10th graders’ past-year use of MDMA, otherwise known as ecstasy or Molly, from 3.6 percent last year to 2.3 percent this year. Similar declines were seen in the use of inhalants, K2/Spice (sometimes referred to as synthetic marijuana), the hallucinogen saliva, bath salts and alcohol – all extremely welcome developments for the wider young adult recovery community.
NIDA Director, Nora D. Volkow, M.D., commented, “With the rates of many drugs decreasing, and the rates of marijuana use appearing to level off, it is possible that prevention efforts are having an effect. It is now more important than ever for the public health community to continue to educate teens, parents, teachers, community leaders, the media and health care providers about the specific harms of drug use among teens, whose brains are still developing.”