February 26, 2020

Teen Substance Abuse 2018, Part 1

Right now, teen substance abuse is a bigger concern than ever. Moving into 2018, teenagers are faced with a variety of challenges that simply didn’t exist for previous generations. For concerned parents, keeping a watchful eye is no longer enough.  Today, to keep your adolescent and teenage children safe, you now must also educate yourself about serious drug threats that were unthinkable in the past.

To make that easier, the National Institute on Drug Abuse funds an annual project that studies the ever-shifting patterns in the attitudes and behaviors of American youth as it pertains to substance use. This publicly-available resource called the Monitoring the Future project.

The Monitoring the Future Project – Understanding Teen Substance Abuse

Since 1975, the MTF project has surveyed high school seniors gain a general impression of teenagers’ attitudes about and behaviors concerning alcohol and drugs That small initial survey involved approximately 16,000 students coming from 133 public and private high schools around the country.

Additional grades were surveyed beginning in 1991, and now, more than 50,000 students from 420 schools participate in the annual survey:

  • 8th grade– 18,000 students from 150 schools
  • 10th-grade – 17,000 students from 140 schools
  • 12th-grade – 16,000 students from 133 schools

The MTF project is so well-regarded that the White House Strategy on Drug Abuse uses the results to help shape policy.

Teen Substance Abuse 2018 – Special Challenges

Although every generation experiments with intoxicants, there are numerous drug threats currently in existence that are much more dangerous anything seen before.

  • Marijuana is widely available, and legal in many states.
  • Cannabis strains are FAR more potent than in the past
  • Marijuana oils and waxes are concentrated to increase THC content.
  • “Designer” club/party drugs – MDMA, ketamine, GHB, Rohypnol, GHB, etc.
  • Synthetic drugs – bath salts, Spice, 2C-I-NBOMe, etc.
  • The opioid epidemic
  • The reemergence of heroin
  • Synthetic opioids – fentanyl, U-47700, gray death, carfentanil, pink
  • The ability to buy drugs on the Internet
  • ADHD medication misuse – Adderall, Ritalin, and other amphetamines
Teen Substance Abuse – Higher Than You Think

Even teenagers who are otherwise responsible often experiment with intoxicants – and much more frequently than you might expect. The MTF reports that over 50% of 12th-graders admit to using an illicit drug or inhalant at least once.

But even more alarming – the drug use rates are also alarmingly among younger teens. Over 23% of 8th graders have tried illegal drugs or inhalants. That number jumps to 37% among 10th-graders.

Among seniors surveyed in 2017, the substances that were most reported for any lifetime use were:

  • Alcohol – 5%
  • Cannabis – 45%
  • Other illicit substance use – 5%
  • Prescription drugs – 5%
  • Amphetamine stimulants – 2%
  • Tranquilizers – 5%
  • Hallucinogenic drugs – 7%
  • LSD – 5%
  • Ecstasy or other “club” drugs – 9%
  • Inhalants – 9%

Among 10th-graders:

  • Alcohol – 2%
  • Cannabis – 37%
  • Other illicit substance use – 7%
  • Amphetamine stimulants – 2%
  • Inhalants – 1%
  • Tranquilizers – 6%
  • Hallucinogenic drugs –2%
  • LSD – 3%
  • Ecstasy or other “club” drugs – 8%
  • Cocaine – 1%

Finally, among 8th-graders:

  • Alcohol – 1%
  • Cannabis –5%
  • Other illicit substance use –3%
  • Amphetamine stimulants – 7%
  • Inhalants – 9%
  • Tranquilizers –4%
  • Hallucinogens –9%
  • Ecstasy or other “club” drugs – 5%
  • LSD – 3%
  • Cocaine –3%
What Can We Learn from These Statistics about Teen Substance Abuse?

The most important takeaway is how drug and alcohol use is trending younger. Among the sampled grades, the biggest single-year jump in substance use was demonstrated among 8th-grade students –, a +2.7% increase.

This is Part 1 of a three-part series.

If you are worried about your child’s substance use, Teensavers treatment centers can help. Since 1978, Teensavers has been one of the most-trusted and respected youth-focused drug and alcohol rehabs in Southern California.

Teensavers – “Transforming lives…”

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