Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Marijuana Use Up, Up, Up
NIDA releases annual survey of teen drug use.
Research compiled from an annual survey of 8th, 10th and 12th graders by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows that “marijuana use increased among eighth-graders, and daily marijuana use increased significantly among all three grades. The 2010 use rates were 6.1 percent of high school seniors, 3.3 percent of 10th -graders, and 1.2 percent of eighth-graders compared to 2009 rates of 5.2 percent, 2.8 percent, and 1.0 percent, respectively.”
At a news conference held to announce the results of the study, NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow said that “high rates of marijuana use during the teen and pre-teen years, when the brain continues to develop, place our young people at particular risk. Not only does marijuana affect learning, judgment, and motor skills, but research tells us that about 1 in 6 people who start using it as adolescents become addicted.”
The annual report, called “Monitoring the Future,” takes the temperature of current teen drug use through interviews with more than 50,000 students across the country. The research is conducted at the Survey Research Center in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.
The survey showed that teen use of Ecstasy is on the increase as well. According to NIDA, “The MTF survey also showed a significant increase in the reported use of MDMA, or Ecstasy, with 2.4 percent of eighth-graders citing past-year use, compared to 1.3 percent in 2009. Similarly, past-year MDMA use among 10th-graders increased from 3.7 percent to 4.7 percent in 2010.”
As for cigarettes, the recent downward trend has “stalled” after several years of steady improvement, said NIDA. “Greater marketing of other forms of tobacco prompted the 2010 survey to add measures for 12th-graders’ use of small cigars (23.1 percent) and of tobacco with a smoking pipe known as a hookah (17.1 percent).”
For the first time, according to the survey, “declines in cigarette use accompanied by recent increases in marijuana use have put marijuana ahead of cigarette smoking by some measures. In 2010, 21.4 percent of high school seniors used marijuana in the past 30 days, while 19.2 percent smoked cigarettes.”
The survey detected a downward trend in binge drinking across the board. Prescription drug abuse remained fairly steady.
The survey also tracks students’ perception of drugs and their risks, and the degree to which drug are viewed as harmful. The report concludes: “Related to its increased use, the perception that regular marijuana smoking is harmful decreased for 10th- graders (down from 59.5 percent in 2009 to 57.2 percent in 2010) and 12th-graders (from 52.4 percent in 2009 to 46.8 percent in 2010). Moreover, disapproval of smoking marijuana decreased significantly among eighth-graders.”
The survey at the University of Michigan is led by Dr. Lloyd Johnston, operating under a NIDA grant. Additional information on the MTF Survey, as well as comments from Dr. Volkow can be found at http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/MTF.html.