Teens Using Less Marijuana, Alcohol and Cigarettes, Survey Finds

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A new survey of teens finds they are using less marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes. The Monitoring the Future study found marijuana use among teens declined from 26 percent last year to 24 percent this year, USA Today reports.

“There is a lot of good news in this year’s results, but the problems of teen substance use and abuse are still far from going away,” said Lloyd Johnston, the study’s principal investigator.

The survey of between 40,000 to 50,000 students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades also found more teens use e-cigarettes than traditional tobacco cigarettes or any other tobacco product. Among 12th graders, 17 percent reported e-cigarette use in the past month, compared with 14 percent who used a tobacco cigarette.

Alcohol use among teens surveyed dropped from 43 percent last year to 41 percent this year. In 1997, the survey found 61 percent of teens said they had used alcohol in the past year. This year the proportion of teens who report binge drinking—consuming five or more drinks in a row at least once in the prior two weeks—fell to 12 percent, from a high of 22 percent in 1997.

Teens are using less synthetic marijuana, the survey found. This year, 6 percent of 12th graders said they had used synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 or Spice. In 2011, the survey found 11 percent of high school seniors used the drug. “Efforts at the federal and state levels to close down the sale of these substances may be having an effect,” Johnston noted.

Cigarette smoking has dropped significantly among teens since 1997, when 28 percent reported smoking in the past month. This year, only 8 percent said they had smoked in the previous month.

Narcotic painkiller abuse also declined among high school seniors, from 7 percent in 2013 to 6 percent this year.