For the past decade, drug and alcohol use among American teens has decreased, but, over the last three years, those numbers have again increased.
The Partnership at Drugfree.org surveyed about 2,500 high schools students for the Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey. Between 2008 and 2010, the number of teens who admitted to marijuana use rose from 32 to 39 percent. Over that same time, ecstasy use rose from six to 10 percent.
When asked about alcohol, 45 percent of students said they don’t see a “great risk” in a daily pattern of heavy drinking, while 31 percent have a problem with their peers getting drunk. In total, 68 percent of the students said that they’ve consumed alcohol before. The average age of the first drink was 14. However, a quarter of the students had their first drink before 12.
Students surveyed say they drink “because it’s fun” or “so they won’t feel left out.”
Twelve! The craziest thing I drank when I was twelve was when I put some orange soda in a cup that still had some apple juice left in it. I’m pretty sure I was sick for the rest of the week. Granted, I was a pure, generally perfect child, but still. Twelve!
Steve Pasierb, director of the partnership, said:
You’re seeing this weakness in this generation of teens’ attitudes around drug and alcohol use. It’s not like this generation of kids thinks they’re more bulletproof than others, but they really don’t see any harm in that heavy drinking.
The partnership also noted that stress, along with “the normalization of drug use in social media, the proliferation and discussion of medical marijuana, and budget cuts to substance abuse prevention programs,” has contributed to the rise in substance abuse among teens.
All of these reasons, plus countless others, have probably combined to cause this increase in drinking and drug use. This isn’t an epidemic. No widespread societal change is going to happen, and nor should it. Regardless of the legal drinking age, you don’t need me to tell you that something’s probably wrong if your kid is drinking a six-pack a day before he graduates middle school.