A new U.S. government report spreads some good news: The percentage of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years who smoke, use alcohol or abuse prescription drugs is falling.
The findings come from 2014 survey data released by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The annual government survey involves about 67,500 Americans aged 12 and older.
According to the survey, the rate at which adolescents between 12 and 17-years of age said they had consumed alcohol over the prior month has fallen from 17.6% in 2002 to 11.5% by 2014.
Illicit abuse of prescription narcotic painkillers, for instance drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin, has also been a big concern over the past few years. The SAMHSA study found that while 3.2% of teens said they had abused the meds in 2002, the rate had fallen to 1.9% by 2014.
The data released today show some signs of progress,” Michael Botticelli, the White House’s Director of National Drug Control Policy, said in a SAMHSA news release.
However, we still have significant challenges to address.
That’s because other statistics indicate worsening trends in use of harmful substances. For example, more teens are using marijuana. The number is up from 9.4% of kids aged 12 to 17 years in 2013, to 10.2% a year later, the report found.
In a statement, SAMHSA attributed the rise, in part, to “the increase in adult marijuana use.”
The new report also found that the rate at which young people under 18 used heroin rose from 0.1% in 2013 to 0.2% in 2014. Despite these trends, Mr. Botticelli stressed that there are proven ways to turn these numbers around.
We know that evidence-based prevention efforts are the most effective way to reduce drug use and to support the roughly 90% of American youth who do not use illicit drugs.