After ten years of declining, a new study has found that alcohol and marijuana use is on the rise. Sean Clarkin, director of strategy at The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, said that we have learned from the past that you usually see an increase in recreational drugs first and the harder stuff usually follows.
The survey, which is done yearly, discovered that the amount of teens in grades 9 through 12 who said they drank alcohol in the past month rose 11 percent in the past year; with 39 percent reporting alcohol use, which is about 6.5 million teens.
Pot use among teens is up 19 percent. About 25 percent of teens said they smoked marijuana in the last month.
Until recently, these numbers for pot and alcohol use had been on a steady decline since 1998. At this time, use lingered around 50 percent for teens using alcohol and 27 percent for teens using pot.
In addition, the new study unfortunately discovered that teens using the party drug Ecstasy is on the rise. Six percent of teens interviewed admitted that they used Ecstasy in the last month, compared with 4 percent in 2008.
Clarkin said that if parents do suspect their teen might be using, they need to act swiftly. Try to watch them closely, talk to them about the danger of drugs, set rules and if necessary, and get outside help such as a counselor, doctor, clergy or other resource.
During the study researchers asked the teens how they felt about doing drugs or about the friends who did them. It was found that a higher percentage of teens than the last year said that they like being high and more friends said they had friends who often got high at parties. Also, less teens admitted that they would not hang out with kids who smoked pot.
MetLife Foundation sponsored the partnership’s “attitude tracking” study. Researchers in the study surveyed 3,287 teens in grades 9 through 12. Data was drawn from surveys that the teens completed from March to June 2009. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.
The New York-based partnership is a nonprofit group that works to decrease illicit drug use.