Pot, Alcohol Use Increases Among Teens
by Annie Shao, age 16
From 1998 to 2008, studies showed the use of marijuana and alcohol among teenagers was on the decline. Since 2008, however, this trend has reversed.
According to Sean Clarkin of The Partnership for a Drug Free America, recent studies show that that teens today use recreational drugs more than in previous years. In 2008, 35 percent of teens from ages 14 to 18 (or about 5.8 million teens) reported alcohol use. In a more recent survey, it was revealed that 6.5 million teens now use alcohol, a four percent increase from 2008. Marijuana use has also increased, with 19 percent of teens using pot in 2008, and 25 percent of teens smoking pot in 2010.
The party drug ecstasy apparently has also become more common among teenagers during the past two years. Four percent of teens in 2008 reported using ecstasy. This increased to six percent by 2010.
However, not all drugs have become more popular with teens. The abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs has remained relatively constant from 2008 to 2009. Heroin and steroid use have stayed below five percent.
In Clarkin’s study, researchers asked teenagers what they think about drug use. The researchers discovered that these days, more teens admit to having friends who get high at parties. Furthermore, fewer teens said that they would refuse to socialize with kids who did drugs.
Clarkin’s new study shows that teenagers are using more gateway drugs. This statistic arouses fears among some experts that hard drug use might eventually rise as well. Gateway drugs are drugs people use that make the possibility of trying other drugs greater. Examples of gateway drugs (also called recreational drugs) are alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana.
Harder drugs, which are more addictive and more dangerous to the body, include cocaine and methamphetamines. Historically, an increase in the use of more dangerous drugs follows the rising use of recreational drugs. Often, people who start with gateway drugs underestimate the risks associated with the use of hard drugs.
[Sources: Associated Press; Chicago Tribune]