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NIH: Teen Drug Use Continuing to Decline

Use of tobacco and alcohol down significantly, too, federal report finds

TUESDAY, Dec. 13, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Illicit drug use among U.S. teens is at an all-time low, with the exception of marijuana, according to a new survey by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The results come from the 2016 Monitoring the Future survey, an annual study of behaviors and choices among teens in the eighth, 10th, and 12th grades.

This year’s survey found that the use of illicit drugs other than marijuana is at its lowest level in the history of the survey for all three grades. Teen use of prescription opioids is trending downward among 12th graders, with a 45 percent drop in past-year use compared to five years ago. Only 4.8 percent of high school seniors said they smoke cigarettes every day, compared to 22.2 percent two decades ago. For 10th graders, the 2016 daily smoking rate is 1.9 percent, compared to 18.3 percent in 1996. About 56 percent of 12th graders drank alcohol in the past year, compared to a peak of about 75 percent in 1997. Younger teens also followed this trend — 38 percent of 10th graders and 17.6 percent of eighth graders reported past-year use, compared to peaks of 65.3 percent in 2000 for 10th graders and 46.8 percent in 1994 among eighth graders.

Results regarding marijuana were more mixed. Use within the past month among eighth graders dropped significantly, down to 5.4 percent in 2016 compared with 6.5 percent in 2015. Daily use also declined among eighth graders, to 0.7 percent compared with 1.1 percent the year before. However, older teens continued to use marijuana at about the same rate. For example, 22.5 percent of high school seniors reported using marijuana within the past month, and 6 percent reported daily use — roughly the same as last year.

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