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.