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Illegal Drug Use by Teens Drops

With all this bad news lately, it is nice to have some good news. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that drug use among US teens has hit an all-time low. And that includes alcohol and tobacco.

The drops in drug use are significant. For example, among 12th graders:

  • Abuse of prescription pain killers is down 45% over the past 5 years
  • The daily use of tobacco dropped from 22% of high school seniors 20 years ago, to 5% today.
  • The use of alcohol dropped from a high of 75% in 1975 to 56% today.

The only drug where results are mixed is marijuana. While many age groups show declining use, older teens continue to smoke weed at roughly the same rates. But at least it is not increasing, which many feared would happen after legalization happened in a number of states.

Of course, there is a completely different addiction that has been on the rise, and that is the compulsive use of social media and video games. Maybe kids are just swapping one kind of habit for another?

Also published on Medium.



  1. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Great news. I saw this report and thought it was awesome. After so many years of concerted effort by local and federal governments, schools, youth organizations like the scouts and sports it seems the message has been gradually getting thru. Hopefully the trend continues.
    You also make a great point about the electronics addictions and social media. But I don’t see that ever trending the right way. At least not while hollywood, the music industry, our schools ( even in elementary schools using tablets and iPads), gov’t etc asking people to follow them on FB, twitter, etc. Our younger generations will need to learn to manage the distractive part of the tools that host the services.

    To all the PI readers out there if I don’t get the chance to shout it out again,Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Kwanza and for any I overlooked Happy Holidays!!

    Monday, December 19, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink
  2. redjon wrote:

    High schoolers are maybe starting to “get” that, a 17-year old trying to look 25 by smoking a cigarette is about as effective as a 12-year old trying to look 17 by doing the same thing.

    Smoking is stupid, as is the use of any product which, used correctly for its intended purpose, is guaranteed to shorten one’s normal lifespan.

    Monday, December 19, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink
  3. Ralph wrote:

    It’s encouraging to see those stats, especially with tobacco use among teens. Though I wonder how much of that decrease has been accompanied by a proportional increase in vaping, which seems to be all the rage in many age groups now. The health effects of this novel nicotine delivery system are only beginning to be studied and evaluated, is largely still unregulated, and comes with its own cornucopia of added, often proprietary and secret ingredients. The tobacco industry predictably has jumped in with both feet, offering yummy new flavors, colors and hi-tech vaping gizmos to grab adolescent’s attention. Joe Camel has a new axe!

    Tuesday, December 20, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink