Monitoring the future
This post is based on the most recent survey of teen drug use by the USA’s National Institute on Drug Abuse. It’s always interesting to look at drug trends in this States because so many substances that are popular there cross over to this country.
The “Monitoring the future” survey is an annual survey of 8th, 10th and 12th graders (basically young people between 13/14 years and 18 years old) which has been going since 1975. 41,551 students from 377 public and private schools participated in the 2014 survey.
The results are usefully presented in a series of infographics. The first one shows the trends in the use of alcohol cigarettes and illegal drugs over the last 20 years. As you can see, the use of alcohol and cigarettes by teenagers has gone down while drug use has remained more or less the same.
In what might be an interesting indication of things to come in this country, latest survey found that teens are more likely to use E cigarettes than cigarettes:
It appears that the legalisation of cannabis in several states may be having an impact on the views of 18-year-old Americans who are unlikely to see regular marijuana use is harmful:
I also found it interesting that after marijuana, prescription and over-the-counter medications are the most likely drugs to be used by 18-year-olds in the USA:
So far, the widespread abuse of prescription medications which has been a major problem in the USA several years does not seem to reach anything like the same scale in the UK.
Finally, it is worth noting that cigarette smoking and binge drinking are down over the last decade. The number of students who disapprove of regular smoking and binge drinking increased in 2014 and 13/14 and 15/16-year-olds reported that cigarettes and alcohol are becoming harder to get.
We do not have exactly comparable figures in the UK, but the latest Crime Survey showed the first increase in illegal drug use for some years among 16 – 24-year-olds.