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National Study Confirms Teen Drug Use Trending in Wrong Direction


Following a decade of steady declines, a new national study released today indicates that teen drug and alcohol use is headed in the wrong direction, with marked increases in teen use of marijuana and Ecstasy over the past three years. The 22nd annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) affirms a disturbing trend that has emerged among American teens since 2008 and highlights that as underage drinking becomes more normalized among adolescents, parents feel unable to respond to the negative shifts in teen drug and alcohol use. The study was released by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and MetLife Foundation.

According to the three-year trend confirmed in this year’s 2010 PATS data, there was a significant 67 percent increase in the number of teens who reported using Ecstasy in the past year (from 6 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2010). Similarly, past-year marijuana use among teens increased by a disturbing 22 percent (from 32 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2010).

“You’re seeing this weakness in this generation of teens’ attitudes around drug and alcohol use,” Steve Pasierb, president of the partnership, told the Associated Press. “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 new data underscore alarming patterns in early adolescent alcohol use and found that teens view drinking alcohol – even heavy drinking – as less risky than using other substances.

• Of those teens who reported alcohol use, a majority (62 percent) said they had their first full alcoholic drink by age 15, not including sipping or tasting alcohol.

• Of those teens who reported alcohol use, one in four (25 percent), said they drank a full alcoholic drink for the first time by age 12 or younger.

• Among teens who reported drinking alcohol, the average age of first alcohol use was 14.

12 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Emran Xeon
    Emran Xeon / May 7, 2013 at 6:02 am

    Dear All,

    Taking Drugs is entirely personal matter of any teenagers under 16 or above. What they eat, drink and inhale drugs, there is no person in this entire PLANET take RESPONSIBILITY to BUY some FOODS to feed them all. So Please DO NOT MIMICKING or PUT PRICELESS WORDS before DRUG users.


  2. Avatar of justin
    justin / February 22, 2013 at 3:34 am

    Portugal decriminalized hard drugs years ago and usage rate went down by over fifty percent so no one should care about your speculation and your own personal biases. Look to how the precedent has been set and learn from it.

  3. Avatar of Troy
    Troy / December 1, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Maybe we should be looking at the results of European drug legalization and regulation programs and their positive effects rather then bemoaning the fact that our outdated drug policy is failing.

  4. Avatar of Venclaire
    Venclaire / September 15, 2011 at 9:19 am

    I think substance abuse have become a real problem because of society today. So many teens are stressed becuase their parents are stressed. And alot of kids are depressed as well.

  5. Eva / May 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    I just have a few comments. One is TV. Look at what is on at 8:00 at night and tell me why “Charlie” is the hero and the cool guy in 2 and a Half Men. People are making huge amounts of money making this stuff look so cool to our young. They also make the smart aleck kid look as though he has no respect for the parents, that they are so uncool that they should basically be ignored, or used for money and rides.
    Secondly, I don’t know what the numbers are in terms of presidencies and their effects on drug use. I do know that people tend to seek relief in the form of drugs and alcohol when they feel hopeless. The Bush administration created the economic situation we are in today, not Obama. We are just now seeing the effects of Bush’s policies and changing the tax rates for the wealthiest people. The Other 98% of us have lost jobs, run out of unemployment and can’t get hired at McDonald’s. Any relief is welcome when you feel so low and unfortunately, the options are limited.

  6. Avatar of Craig Gehring
    Craig Gehring / April 8, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    These stats are even more disturbing considering that teen use is becoming more prevalent even while marijuana becomes more and more potent (higher concentrations of THC) and teens almost exclusively binge in their drinking. It’s a problem that is compounded by many factors.

  7. john / April 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    All the legalizers yelled about the Bush Administration Drug Policies but in that time drug use went down 25%. This happened on the Obama Adminstation watch. They joked about drug use, made statement that they would not go after dispensaries (which they now have recended and they are shutting dispensaries down). This admistration by the time it is done will have the worst record when it comes to substance issues. Bush and Reagan had the best records, look at the numbers.

  8. Avatar of Jose Carreon
    Jose Carreon / April 6, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Perhaps it is failing because people are not taking responsibility for eliminating illegal drug use and therefore contributing to the dammage being done by it. By saying ” your so called drug war” instead of “OUR efforts in elimonating illeagl drug use” says alot about your stance. Even people’s silence condons and our young are paying the price for it.

  9. Avatar of Nicole
    Nicole / April 6, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    …and doesn’t the article also say that alcohol use is up? So, Kirk, it seems you are implying that tobacco (a legal drug) use is down then we should legalize others to bring their use down as well. What if (oops!) we find out that legalizing marijuana or other drugs actually causes their use to increase rather than decrease?

  10. Nicole / April 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I meant to add, like the other legal drug, alcohol…

  11. Avatar of Bob
    Bob / April 28, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Nichole, it doesn’t matter what’s legal or not. If heroin was legal, those who want to use it will. I have no urge to use a drug just because it’s legal as you more than likely wont. It’s all called prevention, teach our children the right way. Let me know what you think.

  12. LukeSr / December 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    yeah sure…legalize marijuana.. and as long as your wathching stats…watch the stats for young adults becoming young addicts go up too!!! studies have shown that if you make it readily available they’ll use it.Apparently your unaware of the studies that reveal the long and short term effects of marijuana use which are too numerous to mention here and…thats right, its a gateway drug too…

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