Drug and Alcohol Use Among U.S. Youth Declining

Drug and Alcohol Use Among U.S. Youth Declining
Drug and Alcohol Use Among U.S. Youth Declining

HealthDay News -- Illegal drug use among teens in the United States is on the decline, according to a new federal report. Alcohol use, binge drinking, and the use of tobacco products among young people between the ages of 12 and 17 also dropped between 2002 and 2013, according to the report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The annual survey of 70,000 people aged 12 and older across the United States revealed that between 2002 and 2013, substance dependence or abuse problems among this age group also dropped from 8.9 to 5.2%. Rates of drug abuse among young people between 12 and 17 years old dropped from almost 12% in 2002 to 9.5% in 2012. In 2013, rates of illegal drug use among teens fell even further to just under 9%.

Alcohol use among young people between the ages of 12 and 17 dropped to 11.6% from almost 13% in 2012. Meanwhile, rates of binge drinking in the past month fell to about 6% from around 7%. In 2013, about 11% of preteens and teens drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year, down from over 14% in 2002. Use of tobacco products among 12- to 17-year-olds also fell from around 15 percent in 2002 to a new low of just under 8% in 2013.

The SAMHSA report noted, however, that almost 25 million young people aged 12 and older are current illegal drug users, or they had used drugs within the past month. Marijuana is the drug most commonly used by teens. In 2013 alone, almost 20 million (7.5% of Americans aged 12 and older) were marijuana users — a jump from about 6% in 2007. Abuse of other drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, and prescription painkillers, was relatively unchanged from 2012 to 2013, the researchers added.

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