New York, U.S.A. – The PATS survey confirms that teen boys are leading the overall increases in marijuana use. Past year use among teen boys is up 24% (from 34% in 2008 to 42% in 2011) and past month use among teen boys is up 38% (from 21% in 2008 to 29% in 2011).
Additionally, boys’ heavy use – smoking marijuana at least 20 times a month – is higher than that of their female counterparts (11% for teen boys versus 6% for teen girls) and boys’ heavy marijuana use is up an alarming 57%, from 7 percent in 2008 to 11% in 2011.
According to the new data, half of Hispanic teens (50%) report that they have used marijuana in the past year (versus 40% for African Americans and 35% for Caucasians). This means Hispanic teens are nearly twice as likely (43%) as Caucasian teens to have smoked marijuana in the past year (50% versus 35%) and 25% more likely than African-American teens.
The study also found that fewer teen girls are abusing Rx medications. Teen girls’ abuse of a prescription drug “to get high or alter your mood” is down 30% since 2010 (from 23% in 2010 to 16%in 2011) and is down a total of 24% since 2009 (21% in 2009). Rx drug abuse among teen boys has remained relatively flat over the same time period.
Teens are starting to view medicine abuse as less socially acceptable and the percentage of teens who “strongly disapprove” of peers using prescription drugs to get high has gone up significantly – from 52% in 2010 to 58%in 2011. Fewer also say it’s “very” or “fairly” easy for teens to get prescription pain relievers, down 25%from 57% in 2008 to 43% in 2011.
“This data set the scene for a ‘perfect storm’ that will threaten the health of a generation of American teens” said Pasierb. “Science has shown that adolescent brains are still developing and are more easily harmed by drug and alcohol use than fully developed adult brains.
Dramatic increases in teen marijuana use, coupled with entrenched behavior of abuse of Rx and OTC drugs, puts teens at greater risk for substance use disorders, academic decline and other problems. With government budgets slashing the national prevention infrastructure and many prevention programs already eliminated, parents must step up to fill those voids, to protect their children’s health and futures.”
New Resource for Parents to Help Prevent Adolescent Drug and Alcohol Use in Their Families
The Partnership at Drugfree.org, in collaboration with the Philadelphia-based Treatment Research Institute (TRI), has released a new tool to help parents and caregivers possibly prevent adolescent drug and alcohol problems. The ” Six Components of Effective Parenting,” based on scientific research, is the product of the new Parents Translational Research Center – a National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded center involving The Partnership at Drugfree.org and TRI.
The resource is comprised of “how-to” parenting tips organized around six principles specifically designed for parents, guardians and other caregivers who can play an active role in helping prevent substance abuse in their families.
The Partnership at Drugfree.org is launching a first-of-its-kind, week-long public education and mobilization campaign, “Wake Up to Medicine Abuse,” in the fall 2012. This initiative will bring the public and private sectors together in a national education effort and call to action to curb the abuse of medicine, one of the biggest drug problems in the United States today.
“Wake Up to Medicine Abuse Week” will take place September 23-29, 2012, and will both encourage and help parents and the public-at-large to take action: first, by talking with the kids in their lives about the dangers of abusing Rx and OTC medicines, and second, by safeguarding and properly disposing of unused medications.