A new survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows that while teens are saying no to most drugs, their smoking marijuana seems to be on the rise. The NIH 2013 Monitoring the Future Survey found that the number of young people who think that marijuana is dangerous has continued to drop over the past decade. Furthermore, the data also indicates that more teens are using the drug than in the past several years. The study's researchers say that lax attitudes about the substance have probably contributed to its increased use.
This year's poll included responses from over 41,000 eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders from 389 public and private schools. When asked about their usage over the last month, 23 percent of high school seniors said that they had smoked the substance at least once, along with 18 percent of 10th-graders and 12 percent of eighth-graders. According to the NIH researchers, drug use among the youngest age group should be a wake up call for parents and public health officials alike.
"We should be extremely concerned that 12 percent of 13- to 14-year-olds are using marijuana," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in a statement. "The children whose experimentation leads to regular use are setting themselves up for declines in IQ and diminished ability for success in life."
Some encouraging trends in the survey include a drop in the use of synthetic drugs like bath salts and Spice. Cocaine and heroin use remained unchanged, but more students are reporting using prescription medications like Adderall and Ritalin for nonmedical reasons.