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    NIDA Director Says Teen Substance Use is Declining but Overdoses are Rising Sharply

    Teen substance use is decreasing, with some notable declines during the pandemic, according to National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Dr. Nora Volkow. But teen overdose deaths have risen sharply, largely due to fentanyl, Volkow told The New York Times.

    “The supply of drugs is more dangerous, leading to an increase in overdose deaths. We’re not exaggerating. I mean, taking one of these drugs can kill you,” she said. Fentanyl-involved deaths among teens doubled from 2019 to 2020, and has remained at that level ever since.

    Regular use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit substances among high school students has been on a long downward trend, the article notes. Last year 46% of high school seniors said they consumed alcohol in the previous year, compared with 88% in 1979, according to the annual Monitoring the Future survey. Illicit substance use among teens has remained low and fairly steady for the past three decades, decreasing more dramatically during the pandemic.

    Volkow gives credit to education and prevention campaigns for helping to decrease substance use among teens. She notes that social media has shifted the opportunity of being in the same physical space with other teens, reducing the likelihood that they will use substances.


    April 2024