Teen Drug Use Continues to Fall

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has released its annual numbers on US teenagers and substance abuse. In the past year, use of illicit drugs (except marijuana) has held steady at its lowest levels in over two decades. The biggest news of all is that opioid misuse by teens is at historic lows. However, NIDA has also found that teens really like to vape.

2017 NIDA Teen Substance Abuse

Teen Tobacco Usage

This year’s survey has seen the lowest percentage of teen cigarette smokers in 43 years. Daily cigarette use was reported by 0.6 percent of 8th graders, 2.2 percent of 10th graders, and 4.2 percent of 12th graders in 2017. Among 12th graders, tobacco use with a hookah fell from 13.0 percent to 10.1 percent in the last year. Hookah rates have declined by 45 percent in the past five years.

Vaping and Marijuana

Past-year vaping was reported by 13.3 percent of 8th graders, 23.9 percent of 10th graders, and 27.8 percent of 12th graders. Vaping was the third most common form of substance use in high school seniors and 10th graders and the second most common among 8th graders. Daily use of marijuana has declined among 8th graders over the past five years to 0.7 percent. Among 12th graders, 6 percent continue to report daily use.

Past-year vaping just flavoring was the most common (reported by 11.8 percent of 8th graders, 19.3 percent of 10th graders, and 20.6 percent of 12th graders), then vaping nicotine (7.5 percent, 15.8 percent, and 18.8 percent), and marijuana in last place (3.0 percent, 8.1 percent, and 9.5 percent).

Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic cannabinoid usage has dropped significantly in the six years since the NIDA survey began tracking use of these substances. These synthetics are called K2/herbal incense or “synthetic marijuana.” In the past six years, 12th graders use of synthetics has dropped from 11.4 percent to 3.7 percent. Among 8th graders, use has fallen from 4.4 percent to 2.0 percent among and from 8.8 percent to 2.7 percent among 10th graders.

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