The 2014 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey just released this month by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reveals that teen abuse of prescription painkillers/relievers, along with the use of alcohol and cigarettes, has declined since 2013. The survey also found that the rate of teenage marijuana use was relatively stable. At the same time, e-cigarette usage by teenagers, which was measured for the first time in the 2013 survey, was found to be high.
Monitoring the Future Results: An Overview
The Monitoring the Future survey of 2014 included participation by 41,551 students from 377 public and private schools. Since its inception in 1975, the MTF survey has measured drug, cigarette and alcohol use and attitudes in 12th graders across the nation. In 1991, 8th and 10th graders were added to the survey population. Participants in the survey report their drug-use behaviors in three specific time-periods of lifetime use, past-year use, and past-month use. The survey also includes questions regarding daily marijuana and cigarette use.
The 2014 MTF results represent an overall trend amongst the youth of our nation over the past twenty years. The Monitoring the Future survey measures drug use and attitudes amongst youth in the 8th, 10th and 12th grades. Funded by NIDA, the research itself is conducted by the Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan researchers.
Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of NIDA, notes that the decreasing drug-use rates and leveling-off of marijuana usage may indicate that drug prevention efforts are making an impact. Volkow emphasized that it is more important than ever for those in the public health community to continue educating parents, teachers, teenagers, health-care providers, community leaders and the media regarding the harms of drug-use amongst teens.
The 2014 MTF survey found that pasts-month use of marijuana by smoking it remained at 6.5% for eighth graders, 16.6 % for 10th graders, and 21.2% for 12th graders. Nearly 6% of 12th graders reported daily marijuana use.
The survey also showed-up that in states with legalized medical marijuana, 40% or 12th graders reporting marijuana-use in the past year at time of survey had consumed marijuana edibles (food products containing marijuana), as compared to 26 % in states which did not allow medical marijuana.
Teen Opioid Abuse
The 2014 MTF survey revealed that over-the-counter and prescription drug abuse maintained their positive downward trend. The use of narcotics, which includes all the opioid pain relievers and not heroin, showed-up past-year use at time of survey to 6.1 % of seniors in high school. This was down from 7.1% in 2013, and markedly less than the 9.5% peak in 2004.
Past-year use of Vicodin, an opioid, dropped significantly over the past five years, down to 4.8% of 12th graders using the drug for non-medical reasons. This is nearly a 50% drop from 9.7% just five years ago.
Non-medical use of DXM (dextromethorphan)-containing cough/cold medicines by 8th graders during the past year at time of survey was 2%, down from 3.8% five years ago.
At the same time, past year non-medical use of Adderall, the stimulant drug frequently prescribed for ADHD, remained relatively stable at 6.8% of high school seniors. The MTF survey revealed once again that most teenagers acquire these drugs from relatives or friends. To a lesser degree, some teens get them from their own prescriptions.
It is an encouraging trend, and those engaged in drug prevention education and raising awareness of the risks and dangers of opioid drug use and abuse, as well as the risks and dangers of all illicit and potentially addictive drugs, must continue their ongoing efforts.
More help is needed in the effort to stem the tide of drug abuse an addiction amongst our youth. For further information on drug prevention education, and how you can help, please call us today.