Monday, December 14, 2009
Teen methamphetamine use is on the decline while marijuana use holds its position and prescription drug abuse remains high reports the National Institute on Drug Abuse in their 2009 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey. The NIDA, using researchers from the University of Michigan who were given a grant, covered eighth, 10th, and 12th graders in the Monitoring the Future survey. Only 1.2 percent of high school seniors report having had used meth in the last year, methamphetamine was added to the survey in 1999 when it was at 4.7 percent. There has been a 5 percent drop amongst 10th graders, 14 percent of 10th graders used meth in 2009; the drop in percentages can only be attributed to better education about the dangers of meth, it confirms that campaigns against the drug are working. National Institute of Health Director Francis S. Collins M.D., Ph.D said, "we are encouraged by the reduction of methamphetamine use, but we know that each new generation of teens brings unique prevention and education challenges. What makes the Monitoring the Future survey such a valuable public health tool is that it not only helps us identify where our prevention efforts have been successful, it also helps us identify new trends in drug use and attitudes that need more attention".
Reduction in marijuana use amongst teens was dropping steady over the years, but, this year's survey shows that the decline has come to a stop. Not very surprising considering the buzz surrounding the drug/medicine, it is hard to imagine marijuana use dropping among teens when it can be prescribed to them now in certain states. What was surprising is that marijuana abuse by teens is significantly less than it was in the 1990's from its peak in the mid-late 1990's. The amount of teens using marijuana is exactly the same as it was five years ago; at least medical marijuana is not causing a surge in abuse of the drug, a major concern for those against medical marijuana programs. However, the survey did show that the amount of teens who think that marijuana can be harmful is down. The marijuana use numbers for 2009 are, "32.8 percent of 12th graders, 26.7 percent of 10th graders, and 11.8 percent of eighth graders", reports the National Institute of Health (NIH). Use of cocaine decreased to 3.4 percent from 4.4 percent in 2008 among 12th graders, and past year use of hallucinogens also fell among high school seniors to 4.7 percent, down from last year’s 5.9 percent rate and significantly lower than its 2001 peak of 9.1 percent.
The NIH reports that, "perceived harmfulness of LSD, amphetamines, sedatives/barbiturates, heroin and cocaine have all increased among 12th graders, and the perceived availability of many illicit drugs has dropped considerably. For example, 33.9 percent of 12th graders reported this year that it is easy to get powder cocaine, down from 38.9 percent just a year ago. Similarly, 35.1 percent of 12th graders said ecstasy is easy to obtain, compared to 41.9 percent last year". These numbers are, overall, pretty good and there are definitely less teens using certain drugs and they perceive them as harmful. What is concerning is prescription drug use and abuse, such drugs as amphetamines and opiates very easily find their way into the hands of high school students. "Nearly 1 in 10 high school seniors reported past year non-medical use of Vicodin, and 1 in 20 reported abusing Oxycontin, also a powerful opioid painkiller. Non-medical use of these painkillers has increased among 10th graders in the past five years. For the first time this year the survey measured the non-medical use of Adderall, a stimulant commonly prescribed to treat ADHD. The survey reported that more than 5 percent of 10th and 12th graders reported non-medical use of the drug in the past year", according to the NIH.
The numbers for 2009 are certainly interesting and we have to be concerned about certain trends for sure. It does appear that there are reductions in certain drug use that shows that increased drug education is paying off in certain areas. The battle wages on and we only hope to see fewer people's lives adversely affected by drugs. Let us know what you think of the Monitoring the Future survey and this year's findings, we are interested to hear what you have to say about it.