Teens are using marijuana more but drinking less

December 22, 2010

Daily marijuana use increased significantly among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, according to the 2010 Monitoring the Future Survey, putting marijuana ahead of cigarette smoking by some measures.

 

Daily marijuana use increased significantly among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, according to the 2010 Monitoring the Future Survey, putting marijuana ahead of cigarette smoking by some measures. The annual survey also showed significant increases in use of Ecstasy and continued nonmedical use of prescription drugs. Binge and other drinking decreased, however, continuing a downward trend, though a similar trend in cigarette smoking stalled in all 3 grades surveyed.

This year’s survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan under a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, was in 46,482 students from 396 public and private schools. In addition to measuring substance use, the survey assessed teen attitudes about drugs, including perceived harmfulness.

Most measures of marijuana use, including daily, monthly, and exposure to marijuana during a 1-year period, increased among 8th graders, and daily marijuana use increased in all 3 grades. The 2010 use rates were 6.1% for 12th graders, 3.3% for 10th graders, and 1.2% of 8th graders, compared with 2009 rates of 5.2%, 2.8%, and 1.0%, respectively. Not surprisingly, the perception that regular marijuana smoking is harmful also decreased in all 3 grades.

Reported use of Ecstasy increased to 2.4% among 8th graders (compared with 1.3% in 2009) and to 4.7% among 10th graders (compared with 3.7%). And prescription drug abuse remains a major problem, with nonmedical use of OxyContin remaining unchanged across the 3 grades and increasing among 10th graders during the past 5 years. Nonmedical use of Adderall and of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines remained high in 12th graders, though Vicodin abuse decreased.

As for drinking, the survey revealed that alcohol use, including binge drinking, is declining in all 3 grades; 23.2% of 12th graders reported having 5 or more drinks in a row during the past 2 weeks, down from 25.2% in 2009. The survey also showed a drop in past-year consumption of flavored alcoholic beverages among 8th and 12th graders.

The downward trend in cigarette smoking came to a halt in all 3 grades. For the first time, the survey added measures of 12th grade use of increasingly popular alternative forms of tobacco, finding that 23.1% used small cigars and 17.1% a hookah.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Teen marijuana use increases, especially among eighth-graders. http://drugabuse.gov/newsroom/10/NR12-14.html. Accessed December 19, 2010.