With two important exceptions, teens have used fewer and fewer drugs over the last few decades, new research suggests this week. The study found that since the early 1990s, levels of reported drug use have declined for most substances, but rates of cannabis use and e-cigarette use have increased. The findings also show that reducing free time and increasing parental supervision may help keep children from using drugs in the first place.
The study was led by scientists at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. They analyzed decades of data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. watch the future The survey regularly asks 8th, 10th, and 12th graders across the country about their drug use and attitudes toward drugs (the questionnaire is intended to be completed anonymously by 8th and 10th graders). , which is supposed to be completely confidential to the 12th graders) ).
They particularly wanted to know how the teens’ social lives influenced their drug use. They divided respondents into different groups based on their social engagement, amount of free time and how they spend it, and level of parental involvement outside of school. For example, her teen, who is more outgoing, may report that she plays sports, attends parties often, and has a part-time job.
Between 1991 and 2019, researchers reported a decline in drug use, including alcohol, tobacco, and most illicit drugs. Although this decline was seen in all his teenage groups, there were differences in how these patterns changed over time. For example, his teen who was the most sociable reported having the highest levels of drug use, but saw the biggest decline by the late 2010s. In 2019, about 27% of teens reported drinking alcohol in the past month, and 15% reported binge drinking in the past two weeks. Here are the findings: It was published Wednesday in the journal Substance Use and Misuse.
“The decline in substance use rates over decades was greatest in groups defined by significant paid employment or high levels of social time, and because of less involvement in other activities or lower levels of supervision. , these groups had the highest initial prevalence of each class of substance, said lead author Noah Kresky, an epidemiologist at Columbia University. statement from university.
As to why this decline is happening, Kreski and his colleagues argue that social trends might be an important factor. Based on this data, teens today seem to be spending less unstructured time with their peers or older adults than they did in the 90s, including having parties, dating, or just working. And community programs focused on deterring kids from smoking or drinking may have also played a role.
While teens have begun to drink and smoke nicotine less, their levels of cannabis use and vaping have gone up over time. By 2019, 13% of teens reported using cannabis, 12% reported nicotine vaping, and 6% reported cannabis vaping in the past month. These trends were seen across all groups, but especially in socially engaged teens or those with a job. It’s possible that cannabis and vaping might have become alluring alternatives to alcohol and other drugs among teens as cultural norms have shifted over time, but the authors say that more research is needed to understand the exact drivers behind this rise and fall of teen drug use.
“Uncovering these links between complex patterns of time use and substance use outcomes could reveal new opportunities for intervention and education of adolescents surrounding substances, helping to promote declines in use,” said Kreski.
More recent data from the Monitoring the Future Survey suggests that these trends are continuing in both directions. While overall reported teen drug use once again declined between 2020 and 2021, cannabis use Rose best ever.