Cigarette smoking is declining. Isn’t that great? After decades of campaigning against smoking, statistics show that smoking rates have shrunk in the U.S. in the last decades. The MTF (Monitoring the Future) 2010 survey released a similar finding at a National Press Club news conference in December: there is a decrease in cigarette smoking among teens. Not only that. Binge drinking has also decreased by 2% among senior high school students in the past year. The bad news, however, is that more teens are smoking marijuana. This is not all of it. More teens are into illicit drugs such as Ecstasy.
The MTF survey was performed on 12th, 10th and 8th graders by researchers from the Univesity of Michigan in Ann Arbor. More than 300 privat and public schools participated with more than 14000 students answering the questionnaires. The results are summarized as follows:
Marijuana use rates in 2010 among 12th, 10th and 8th graders were 6.1%, 3.3%, and 1.2%, respectively. In 2009, these rates were 5.2 %, 2.8%, and 1.0 %, respectively.
There is an increase in the use of Ecstasy, from 1.3 to 2.4 % among 8th graders and from 3.7 to 4.7% among 10th graders in the past year.
The use of Vicodin, another illicit drug, among 12th graders has decreased from 9.7 to 8% this year but the use of other drugs such as Oxycodin, an opiate, remains high at 5%. Teens obtain other illicit drugs through friends or family members or steal them.
As MTF also monitored teens’ attitudes on drugs and alcohol, the survey also showed that there has been a decrease in teens’ perception on the harmfulness of marijuana smoking; down from 59.5% in 2009 to 57.2 % in 2010 among 10th graders and from 52.4% to 46.8% among 12th graders. No wonder the proportional increase in marijuana’s abuse.
The rising use of marijuana and other drugs is, of course, disappointing. These have known negative effects on the brains and the learning process. Success of teens’ performance in school has also been reported. Research has also shown that these can be addictive. It’s perhaps time to seriously reflect whether legalization of drugs or marijuana was a good thing, the authors noted.