Cigarette smoking among teens is on the decline, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). Based on the 35th annual study, cigarette smoking among students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades is at lowest point in the history of the study.
Online survey software tools are being used to measure drug, alcohol and cigarette use among adolescents nationwide since 1975. The survey is conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. Categories of drug use broken down by grade as well as by life-time use, past year use and past month use.
According to the study results from 2009, cigarette smoking dropped among all three survey groups. This is significant because addiction to tobacco is considered one of the top preventable contributors to many U.S. health problems.
Lifetime use of methamphetamines also dropped significantly from 2004 to 2009. For 8th-graders, lifetime use went from 2.3 percent to 1.6 percent. Amphetamines, alcohol and cocaine use also showed steady, five-year declines for 10th and 12th graders.
Teen attitudes toward substance abuse also showed many positive changes which is a good indicator of future changes in use. Senior perceptions of the harmfulness of LSD, amphetamines, heroin, cocaine and several other drugs have increased while their perception of the availability of several drugs has decreased.
Despite these positive notes, the study results show some points of concern. Marijuana use which had been declining consistently since the mid-1990’s, has remained virtually unchanged over the last five years with past month usage up in all three grades studied in a year-on-year comparison.
The use of smokeless tobacco also increased significantly for 10th graders in all three categories. Prescription drug use has also been on the rise for 10th graders with an increase in past year nonmedical use of Vicodin and Oxycontin for the previous five years.
Seniors reported that they were able to obtain prescription drugs which they used for nonmedical reasons either by buying them from a friend or relative or being given them (52 percent) or getting them by prescription (30 percent). Very few 12th graders purchased these drugs over the Internet.