2012 Teen Drug Abuse Statistics

How many teenagers abuse prescription drugs? What percentage of high schoolers use illicit drugs? How many teens actually think weed is dangerous? What are the prevalence of teen drug abuse in 2012?

Thanks to the annual Monitoring the Future survey, we now have the most recent statistics on teen drug abuse and addiction. This report, released just this month, surveyed over 45,000 students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grade from 395 different schools.

Here are some of the highlights:

1. An increase in marijuana use

Marijuana use among high schoolers have increased slightly from 2007 to 2012. According to the study,

In 8th grade,

  • 1 in 100 8th graders reported daily use
  • 6.5% reported past month use and
  • 11% said they’ve used it in the past year.

In 10th grade,

  • 5.3% report using marijuana daily
  • 17% report using marijuana in the past month
  • Almost one third of tenth graders (28%) report using marijuana in the past year

By graduation,

  • One in 15 high school seniors (6.5%) smoke marijuana regularly.
  • 23% said they’ve smoked it in the month prior to the survey
  • 36% say they smoked within the previous year.

2. A decrease in the perception of marijuana’s harmfulness

The growing use of marijuana may be due to the fact that less students perceive marijuana use as harmful. The perception of risk from using marijuana has been the lowest since the survey began polling teens in 1975.

  • Over one third of eighth graders (33%) see no harm in regular marijuana use.
  • By 12th grade, 56% of students do not perceive marijuana use as harmful, the lowest since 1979.

3. A decline in Ecstasy use

The use of other illicit drugs among teens continue to decline, but ecstasy (MDMA) shows the most promising trend. The past year use of ecstasy among high school seniors dropped from 5.3% last year to 3.8% this year.

4. Bath Salts Abuse is surveyed for the first time

For the first time, the survey included questions about bath salts, a synthetic amphetamine-like stimulant. However, usage was low among seniors, at only 1.3%.

The use of other synthetic drugs, such as synthetic marijuana, remained at 11% for past year use among high school seniors.

As far as other illicit drugs,

  • One quarter of seniors reported drug use in the past 30 days
  • One out of 10 sophomores reported drug use in the past 30 days
  • 5% of 8th graders reported drug use in the past 30 days

5. Prescription Painkillers: a mixed report

Almost 15% of high school seniors have used prescription drug non-medically in 2012. Vicodin and Adderall remain the two most commonly abused prescription drugs among teens.

  • 7.5% of high school seniors reported non-medical use of Vicodin in the past year, a decrease from 10% in 2010.
  • Rates of Adderall use has increased slightly among 12th graders. Additionally, there has been a significant decline in the perceived harm of Adderall, and 65% of seniors see no risk in occasional Adderall abuse.

6. Alcohol use drops to “historically low levels”

According to the survey, alcohol use by all three grades are at their lowest point since 1975, the date the Monitoring the Future began.

  • 41.5% of 12th graders reported past 30 day alcohol use
  • 27.6% of 10th graders reported past 30 day alcohol use
  • 11% of 8th graders report past 30 day alcohol use

Good news or bad news?

While the survey reveals good news about certain drug trends, the fact that 11% of 14-year-olds have had alcohol in the past month is still far from safe–or legal. Additionally, the changing perception of certain drugs–such as marijuana or Adderall–point to disturbing trends in future surveys.

As it has been so often emphasized, prevention and education are the cornerstones to curb drug abuse and addiction. Unfortunately, the importance of getting help should an addiction occur has been brushed to the side, resulting in millions of untreated addicts. In 2009, 1.9 million youths aged 12 to 17 needed but did not receive treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction.

Yet help is available. There is hope, the  potential to change, an opportunity for a second chance. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, you can get started on the road to recovery by exploring finding the right rehab for you.

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