Survey: Teen Drug Use Decreasing For First Time In Years

Rates of drug use for marijuana declined, while over-the-counter drug use increased for some teens.

drug free school zone sign

Photo: Elvert Barnes (Flickr)

Middle schoolers and high schoolers may be using drugs with less frequency, a new study says.

The 2012 Annual Survey of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use shows the first signs of decline in marijuana use by 6th through 12th graders since 2008. The Indiana Prevention Resource Center’s survey also revealed alcohol and cigarette usage rates held steady or decreased since last year.

Director of Indiana Prevention Resource Center Ruth Gassman says that while this is an improvement, the survey also found over-the-counter drug use increased among 6th graders.

“I think that like with the prescription drugs, there’s a perception that over-the-counter drugs are not dangerous to use recreationally,” Gassman says. “A lot of parents in addition to youth are not aware that these drugs can be dangerous.”

Indiana ranks second in the nation for the number of high school students who report taking prescription medications without a doctor’s permission. Most reported receiving these drugs from a friend. Gassman says it’s important for families to be aware of this trend.

“If families are seeing three or four bottles of cough medicine in their child’s backpack or in their room, I think that would raise a red flag that they should talk with their child about the situation,” she says.

Gassman says this year’s survey also looked at the connections between mental health and family situations on teen drug use.

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