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New Positive Report on Kids and Drugs

 Despite daily reports in the media that schools and the country in general are going to hell in a handbasket, new reports show that kids today are partaking a lot less in sex, drugs, and rock and roll than their parents did.  OK, maybe not rock and roll, but definitely sex, drugs, and alcohol.

The study comes from Monitoring the Future, an initiative funded by the National Institute of Health and conducted through the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.  The study has been ongoing since 1975, and each year about 50,000 eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders are surveyed.  In addition, annual follow-up questionnaires are sent to a sample of each graduating class a few years after graduation.

Marijuana use among teens has seen a recent increase, but teens are smoking less pot than their parents did at the same age.  In 1980, about 60% of high school seniors reported they had tried marijuana and 9% were daily smokers.  Today’s seniors report that 45.5% have smoked pot and 6.6% are regular smokers.  In addition, in 1980, about a third of seniors reported smoking regular cigarettes within the past month; today that number has dropped to about one-fifth.

Alcohol consumption within the last month was reported by about 40% of seniors in the 2011 survey.  In 1980, 72% of seniors reported drinking alcohol during the last month.  In a related statistic, in 1988, 50% of boys age 15-17 reported having had sex.  In the latest survey that percentage dropped to 28%.  The percentage of teenage girls having sex dropped from 37.2% to 27%.

An increasing problem, however, according to Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is greater use among teens of over the counter or prescription drugs.  These fall into three categories:  painkillers (like Vicodin), stimulants (like Ritalin) and sedative hypnotics (sleep inducers). 

Kids are always going to experiment; it’s the nature of young people.  Still, these latest statistics are good to hear.  For more analysis, here is an interview with Dr. Volkow conducted by high school senior Lillian Rosen.



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