Use of Drugs and Alcohol Among Teens Declines Again

Teen refusing marijuana

The rate of drug and alcohol use among American teens continues to decline, a new government study indicates. Teens’ use of tobacco also dropped, The Washington Post reports.

The rate of current illicit drug use among teens ages 12 to 17 was 8.8 percent in 2013, compared with 9.5 percent in 2012, and 11.6 percent in 2002. The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) also found between 2002 and 2013, the level of teens with substance dependence or abuse problems decreased from 8.9 percent to 5.2 percent.

Between 2002 and 2013, teens’ rate of regular alcohol use declined from 17.6 percent to 11.6 percent. During that period, marijuana use among teens ages 12 to 17 also declined. Teens’ recreational use of prescription painkillers decreased as well.

The NSDUH is an annual survey of a nationally representative sample of about 70,000 Americans ages 12 and older. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the report as part of its 25th annual observance of National Recovery Month.

Many Americans who need treatment for a substance use disorder are not receiving specialty treatment, the report indicates. While 22.7 million Americans 12 and older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem last year, only 2.5 million received it in a facility designed to treat substance use disorders.

“This report shows that we have made important progress in some key areas, but that we need to rejuvenate our efforts to promote prevention, treatment and recovery, to reach all aspects of our community,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde said in an agency news release.

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    Mark Nason

    September 17, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    While this article contains an accurate report of data from the 2013 NSDUH, the headline is not justified. Data from the 2013 Monitoring The Future (MTF) study of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders paints a somewhat different picture. According to MTF, there were no statistically significant changes in past 30-day overall illicit drug use and marijuana use from 2012 to 2013 for students in these grades; and there was a small, but statistically significant increase in any illicit drug use other than marijuana for 8th graders. It is important to consider more than one source of data to draw clearer conclusions. In addition, lumping ages 12-17 together is less informative and there have been fluctuations in self-reported use in both directions over the past 20 years, so comparing data to 2002 seems rather arbitrary.

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