New Survey Released on Drug Use Trends

trending drugs of abuse

Every year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a division of the National Institutes of Health, publishes its Monitoring the Future survey. The survey presents a valuable insight into the current trends and rates of drug abuse in the United States. It serves as a representative cross-section of the American youth, allowing us to see what is happening in terms of things such as:

  • How common is drug use among teenagers?
  • What percentage of high school students use drugs?
  • What drugs are most common among young people?
  • Which drugs are becoming more widespread?
  • Are efforts to fight drug use among young people working?

The Monitoring the Future survey not only allows us to see what is happening now but as the name implies, it also gives us a glimpse into what we can expect in years to come. After all, today’s high school students are tomorrow’s adults, and one day they will be parents, business owners, politicians and generally will make up the structure of society. In this light, it becomes of great importance to know whether young people are using drugs more or less so that we can take effective action to safeguard the future.

The outcome of the 2013 Monitoring the Future survey, published on December 18, brings a mix of good and bad news. One of the most noteworthy findings, unfortunately, was not promising. The rates at which high school seniors report that they consider regular marijuana use to be harmful are dropping at the same time as the rates of pot use are on the rise. Currently, as many as 60% of American 12th graders consider that using marijuana on a regular basis is not dangerous, a dramatic reversal from 20 years ago when more than 75% held the opposite view. Similarly, the rate of daily marijuana consumption among high school seniors has nearly tripled from 2.4% in 1993 to 6.5% today. On a broader scale, 36% of seniors say they smoked pot at some time in the past year.

Why do Young People Start Using Drugs

Why is drug use becoming so commonplace among high school students in the United States? There may be many reasons, but one that stands out is a lack of proper education about the health effects of drugs. In the case of marijuana, there is an increasingly widespread idea that cannabis is not physically harmful, it is “just a plant,” is not addictive and may even have some health value. Marijuana may not be as addictive as some drugs, but it does nonetheless carry the potential for severe health complications, for example, the fact pot smoke contains cancer-causing substances and can cause respiratory problems.

Many young people simply do not have all the facts about the dangers of drug use. If you ask a teenager why you shouldn’t use cocaine, he or she is likely to tell you that the reason is that it is illegal, or that it is addictive. This is only part of the picture. Narconon is attempting to remedy this failing of the educational system by publishing its own series of online resources, beginning with a page titled, “Cocaine Health Risks.” It details all of the various reasons why cocaine is harmful to the body, such as the fact that it can cause certain areas of the heart to thicken and may lead to a heart attack. This is the type of information that many young people simply don’t have, and it’s the type of info that can help them make the right decisions when offered the chance to use drugs. Narconon works to salvage the lives of drug addicts, but they are also making major efforts to keep people off drugs in the first place.



Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.