Vaping Among American Teens Increases Dramatically Over One Year Among U.S. Teens, Opioid Use at Record Lows, Marijuana Use Stable
NEW YORK – DECEMBER 17, 2018 – The National Institutes of Health’s Monitoring the Future Study (MTF), an annual survey tracking substance use among nearly 45,000 8th, 10th and 12th graders, shows a dramatic increase in American teens’ use of vaping devices in just a single year – with 37.3 percent of 12th graders reporting “any vaping” in the past 12 months, compared to just 27.8 percent in 2017.
Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, produced by an e-cigarette or similar vaping device. Due to the rise in popularity of JUUL, a specific type of vape device, many teens and young adults use the term “JUULING” (pronounced Jeweling), when referring to the act of vaping.
The new MTF data found that electronic vaping has become more popular among teens, as the substances teens are vaping range from nicotine to marijuana to “just flavoring.” Reported use of vaping nicotine specifically in the 30 days prior to the survey nearly doubled among high school seniors from 11 percent in 2017 to 20.9 percent in 2018. Among eighth graders, 10.9 percent reported vaping products that contained nicotine in the past year. Use is up significantly in virtually all vaping measures among all grades surveyed. The study confirmed that reports of past-year marijuana vaping also increased in 2018, with usage now at 13.1 percent for 12th graders, compared to 9.5 percent last year.
The new survey also illustrated that the percent of 12th graders who say they vaped “just flavoring” in the past year also increased to 25.7 percent in 2018 from 20.6 percent in 2017. The perceived availability of vaping devices and liquids also increased among 8th and 10th graders, with 45.7 percent and 66.6 percent, respectively, saying the devices are “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get.
“Many parents we talk with are unaware of what vaping is and unprepared to have conversations with their kids or even know what to look for. Conversely, teens may not fully understand that vaping has the potential to be just as addictive as smoking tobacco,” said Fred Muench, President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “Teens may think too that there are ‘just vaping flavoring,’ but some vaping devices do not have nicotine-free options and teens may not know what they are actually using. There are significant, concerning unknowns, including vaping’s long-term health consequences.”
Opioid Use Among Teens at a Historic Low
Teen opioid misuse continues to see significant declines. According to the survey, misuse of some of the more popular prescription (Rx) opioid medications is at historic lows among teens in school. Past-year misuse of the Rx opioid Vicodin dropped to just 1.7 percent, and this reflects a long-term decline from a peak of 10.5 percent in 2003.
In tracking overall misuse of pain medication described as “narcotics other than heroin” in the survey, past year misuse has dropped significantly among 12th graders since its MTF data confirmed its peak in 2004 – to 3.4 percent from 9.5 percent.
“The Partnership has been working with and bringing together partners – in government, healthcare, corporations, nonprofits, individual parents and advocates – all committed to drive down teen initiation of and misuse of opioids,” said Muench. “It is encouraging to see steady progress. We need to stay vigilant and continue the good work that’s been done in prevention and intervention – from safe disposal to Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) to prescriber education to everything in between – all solutions that demonstrate that we can begin to reverse the country’s opioid epidemic.”
Overall Marijuana Use Stable
Past year rates of marijuana use are steady among high school sophomores and seniors, but among 8th graders, there is a significant five-year drop. In 2013, rates were 12.7 percent, and in 2018, the number is 10.5 percent.
Rates of daily marijuana use are also steady, with 5.8 percent of high-school seniors reporting daily use, compared with rates reported at 5.0 and 6.6 percent for the past 20 years. There continues to be more 12th graders who report using marijuana every day (5.8 percent) than smoking cigarettes (3.6 percent), and only 26.7 percent of 12th graders think regular marijuana use offers great risk of harm.
“There is a continuing trend among teens of a perceived lack of harm from regular marijuana use, and while use has not increased, potency has significantly increased,” said Muench. “As teens and young adult brains are still developing, efforts in prevention and early intervention are important in the middle and high school years, but also as our youth transition into college and young adulthood.”
Partnership Resources Help Address Adolescent and Young Adult Substance Use
The Partnership has created new online resources to help parents and families educate themselves about the risks of vaping and to communicate those risks to their kids and teens. The essential resource, “Vaping: What You Need to Know And How to Talk With Your Kids,” helps parents understand vaping’s appeal to young people and offers practical advice on what to say and do if they are concerned that their child may try or is already vaping.
Families can also learn more about what signs to look for and comparisons among vaping flavors with no additives, flavors that contain nicotine and those that contain marijuana. For parents who are concerned about their kids specifically vaping marijuana products: “How to Know if Your Kid is Vaping Marijuana — and What to Do About It.”
For parents and caregivers concerned about a loved one’s opioid misuse, the Partnership offers comprehensive resources, including the importance of safeguarding your medicine, how to save a life with naloxone, what you need to know about medication-assisted treatment and more.
Finally, the Partnership’s Parent Helpline has connected more than 15,000 families to master’s level specialists who have helped them develop a plan to address their child’s substance use, and across the spectrum, from prevention to recovery. Families can connect with the Helpline via the website, drugfree.org, by phone at 855-DRUGFREE, through text messaging and Facebook Messenger. Help is available in English and Spanish.
For more information, please visit drugfree.org.
# # # # #
More About the Monitoring the Future Study
Conducted by the University of Michigan, the new MTF findings come from the 2018 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey of a nationally representative sample of 8th, 10th and 12th graders in schools nationwide, funded by a government grant to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The annual results were announced today by the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, along with the scientists who lead the research team.
Overall, 44,482 students from 392 public and private schools participated in this year’s MTF survey. Since 1975, the survey has measured drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes in 12th graders nationwide. Eighth and 10th graders were added to the survey in 1991. Survey participants generally report their drug use behaviors across three-time periods: lifetime, past year, and past month. NIDA has provided grant funding for the survey since its inception. MTF is funded under grant number DA001411. Additional information on the MTF Survey can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/MTF.html. The University of Michigan press release can be found at http://monitoringthefuture.org.
MTF is one of three major surveys supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provide data on substance use among youth. The others are the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.