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New Research: Teen Drug and Alcohol Use Headed in Wrong Direction

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The 22nd annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), sponsored by MetLife Foundation, confirms a disturbing trend that has emerged among American teens since 2008. Following a decade of steady declines, the study found 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 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. The PATS study also 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.


CHART- Age at Which Teens Who Reported Drinking Had First Drink

  • 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.
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4 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Jessica
    Jessica / November 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    When Was this survey taken

  2. Avatar of Dan R. Gray
    Dan R. Gray / April 8, 2011 at 3:53 am

    The drug cartels and all of the links to the teens has been growing stronger over the past ten years if not longer. The reason is that, although many teens have tried alcohol, it is far more difficult to obtain that pot. The “clandestine chemists” have been coming up with some new mood/mind altering chemicals for which there is no drug test available. When I was a teen, one of the chemical tricks was a handful of ASA and a full bottle of 7-up in a big gulp. Now it is a large dose of cough suppresant which is likely to produce a somewhat halucenogenic state. This is a problem that is virtually unstoppable during teen years. Read of Huck Finn and it is there too. The only real answer to the pot problem with teen is to legalize, reguate, and tax it just like we do a chemical that is 100 times worse, alcohol. That takes it out of the hands of teens at the same level as alcohol. Now it is no longer profitable to the dealers, it is harder for the teens to obtain and we eliminate high costs in the criminal justice system, and gain huge revenues in tax on marijuana while at the same time putting the old tobacco farmers back in business creating a huge number of new jobs. Gambling has proven to be less of a problem and a great source of jobs and revenue for the states. Sure, there will be those for who any one of a number of things will be addictive but that is a genetic and epigenetic problem that will soon be cured. That is correct, the genetic and epigenetic cures for addictions are right on our doorstep and nobody really knows how close. With and estimated $900 billion per year in U.S. GDP tied to alcohol and other chemical use, what happen when the genetic cures hit and that $900 billion per year dries up virtually overnight? Something to think about.

  3. Avatar of chris sutton
    chris sutton / April 23, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Nice to see a sensible comment on pot on this site

  4. Avatar of Taylor
    Taylor / May 2, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Proud to be living in a legal medical marijuana state! Woo michigan

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