National trends for substance use among adolescents parallels local youth opinions

image: Shay “Cigarettes and Alcohol”
By: Monica Ippolito
ACS Outpatient Counseling Services Intern

Recently the National Institute on Drug Abuse released a study that the University of Michigan conducted in their Monitoring the Future Study on what trends are popular among middle and high school students across the country. The study looked at usage of alcohol, illicit and pharmaceutical drugs. I would like to share some of the statistics that resonated with me based on the similarities that I see in the teenagers that I work with.

What stood out in this study is the decrease in alcohol use in all grades. This is great news, but what I have heard from teenagers is that some of their parents believe drinking alcohol is not that bad or it is less harmful than marijuana. We know that this is not true. On the freeways in Silicon Valley, electronic freeway signs flash that “Buzzed Driving is Still Drunk Driving.” This is a new issue to focus on with our young people, particularly, it is a conversation that needs to happen between parents and teenagers.

According to the study marijuana use has remained steady in use among middle and high school students. The study also mentioned that teenagers views on the harmful effects of marijuana have in fact dropped. I would have to agree that most of the teenagers that I work with believe that it is not harmful and it is especially not addictive. A lot of the teenagers think it all  has to do with turning 18 and being able to get a medical marijuana card so that they will no longer be breaking the law.

Cigarettes vs E-Cigarettes
Lastly, the study took a look at tobacco use vs. e-cigarettes. The teenagers that I work with are in agreement with the study in that they would never use tobacco because it is harmful and disgusting. These are the same teenagers who are using e-cigarettes. Teenagers believe that e-cigarettes are safe and have no negative side effects. What they do not seem to understand is that they could be taking in more nicotine than an average cigarette.

The most important thing that I can emphasize to parents is to continue talking to your teenagers because even if they do not show it they are listening. They hear you and they want to know what your views on these topics are. They are looking for guidance from you so please share your knowledge with them. Try not to lecture them, but have an honest conversation, possibly even a friendly debate to discuss your thoughts and feelings on these and any other topics.

For more information on this study I have attached a link: