Trends In Teen Drug Use

illegial-drugsDrug usage is a problem that has played a dominant role in teenagers’ lives. Some of them experiment once or twice, and others develop problems with addiction. Whether teens are using opioids, synthetic cannabinoids or other harmful drugs, trends change. Drugs that were heavily used in previous decades have faded to some degree, and other ones have taken their place.

Decline in Heavy Drug Usage

According to Monitoring the Future, a yearly survey created by the University of Michigan, the usage of major drugs has declined in the five years leading up to 2016. Opioids and synthetic cannabinoids, for example, fall into this category. Some drugs, such as inhalants and salvia, have prevalence rates as low as 1.9. In fact, the report notes that some of the figures are lower they have ever been during the life of the survey.

Prescription Drug Usage

The world of drugs has changed in that prescription abuse has taken a prominent role in recent society. One of the reasons for this change could be the presence of more prescription drugs on the market. Also, as more people are diagnosed with conditions, more prescription drugs are circulated. However, it seems that this usage may have seen its height as figures have decreased for prescription drug usage in the past five years as well.

Possible Causes

Learning that certain types of drug usage have declined is a positive moment for society; however, experts also want to examine the reasons for this decline. Knowing what led to a decline can help to solve future problems. In recent years, many schools have been more liberal about anti-drug campaigns. In the past, some did not want to broach the subjects at all for fear of igniting drug usage in students. However, when schools actively campaign against drug usage, they also provide a source of assistance for the students. If students feel that they are burdened by a drug addiction or if they feel pressured into taking drugs, they can turn to counselors at their school for assistance. More schools have taken an approach that seeks to assist rather than to punish.

Cigarettes and Alcohol

Nicotine and alcohol have held a prominent role in teenage culture. For many years, people often heard stories about teenagers binge drinking at high school and college parties, and those reports are unlikely to stop in the near future. However, a brighter future may lie ahead as the same survey results found that alcohol usage is also declining. Cigarettes and their nicotine addiction have seen a protest as well. The same survey reports that in 1997, 25 percent of seniors surveyed said that they smoked on a daily basis. Now, however, that same statistics has dropped down to 5.5 percent. As recently as 2010, the percentage was 10.7 percent.

Cigarettes and Awareness

People may wonder why teens have stopped using tobacco and other such products like they used to. The awareness about nicotine and tobacco has risen so much in society in past years. Smoking used to be popular, and teens are now starting to see the effects on their loved ones. They see their parents and grandparents developing lung cancer, perhaps as a result of smoking cigarettes in the past. Also, today’s teens were raised in a different culture. Decades ago, it was considered normal to smoke in the car or in the house with kids around, but today’s teenagers did not grow up in that culture.The media plays a large role in perception, especially when it comes to teens. Examining movies from previous decades, whether the main characters were teenagers or not, would show smoking in a rather benign light. Characters would nonchalantly light up cigarettes, and their relatives or peers would not comment on their habit. That scenario has changed. Most movies and television shows do not depict characters who smoke cigarettes at all. If they do, a comment is often made about how the product is bad for the health of the smoker.

E-cigarette Usage

Although teenagers are not using cigarettes like they used to, they are dabbling in the world of e-cigarettes. The National Institute of Health says that the usage of e-cigarettes has risen and that the usage is concerning. Some teenagers use the e-cigarette because they are trying to quit regular cigarettes. However, some of them see e-cigarettes as the new cigarettes. They don’t start using them as a way to quit; they start using them because their friends are or because they think that they are cool. Peer pressure can exist for e-cigarettes too.

Marijuana Usage

The same survey shows that marijuana usage has stayed at a regular pace. When people consider this drug in relation to others, they also have to remember that marijuana is now legal in some states. Even though age restrictions are in place, teenagers still tend to have more access to the drug because it is in their environment.Not only is marijuana more readily available and easy to access than it was in the past, but people’s perceptions on the drug are changing. The survey also found that high school students, in general, do not think that smoking this drug once in awhile is a big deal. They see that it is legal in some states, so they do not believe that it is as harmful as other drugs that are still illegal. Due to the laws changing across the U.S., perception about the drug has changed as well.Examining trends in teen drug usage is important because doing so helps professionals, parents and youths alike to stay knowledgeable on what has changed. Staying up-to-date on what is trending with teen drug use will not only show where the problems lie and what the solutions might be.

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/high-school-youth-trends

http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/data/15data/15drfig10.pdf

http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/data/15data.html

http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/

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