Data collected from the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey shows a number of trends among American teens, one of which is a decline in the use of some drugs. Some of the substances which are falling out of favor among teenagers include prescription drugs and pain relievers. While this is a positive sign, there are other drugs which have remained popular among this group.
Marijuana Remains A Popular Drug Among Teens
The MTF collected data regarding drug use among 8th to 12 graders, and their feelings towards the practice. This research was financed by the NIDA, or National Institute on Drug Abuse, and has been ongoing since the 1970s. It highlights a number of trends which have begun in 2016, such as the daily use of marijuana among teenagers surpassing cigarettes for the first time.
While 5.5 percent of teenagers reported smoking cigarettes daily, the number of teenagers using marijuana daily increased to 6 percent. Both researchers, government officials and parents are also relieved to see that the consumption of hard drugs is not increasing while drugs such as prescription opioids have fallen out of favor. 2016 trends also show a marked improvement in the usage rates for alcohol.
However, marijuana continues to be a cause for concern. It is extremely popular among high school students, and some believe that this is partly due to it being glamorized in popular media, particularly in hip hop music, which is also popular among teens. Marijuana has a number of effects which can be deleterious within the brains of teenagers, which are developing, and e-cigarettes have also become sought after by some adolescents.
Additional 2016 Drug Trends And Facts For Teenagers
A growing number of teenagers perceive marijuana as being harmless. While previous studies indicated that 36 percent of teenagers considered marijuana to be harmful, for 2016 that number fell to 32 percent. Synthetic marijuana has also become less popular among adolescents. In 2011 it was popular among 11 percent of teenagers, but by 2016 it dramatically declined to just over 5 percent. Heroin has become extremely unpopular among teens and its usage has fallen to 0.5 percent among 12th graders and 0.3 percent among 8th graders.
Even Ecstasy, which has traditionally been quite popular among teens, is also seeing declining rates in usage. Part of this is likely due to the well-publicized cases of teenagers and college students overdosing and dying when trying these drugs, as well as fears of Ecstasy being tainted. In 2014 Ecstasy use among teen was at 5 percent, but by 2016 it has declined to 3.6 percent. Prescription drugs such as Vicodin are also seeing a decline in usage, as are tobacco related products. An exception to this is electronic cigarettes, which are currently unregulated. Many teenagers like the flavor of these products but e-cigarettes are much more popular among teenage males than females, with over 21 percent of boys trying them out while only 11 percent of females admit using them. While these statistic show improvement in the decline of drugs among teens, there are still areas where more work is needed.