A new survey of teenage drug use finds that their consumption of cigarettes and alcohol is the lowest it has been in 30 years, but that regular use of marijuana continues its sharp rise. The study found that 1 out of every 15 students in 10th and 12th grades uses pot on a daily or near-dealy basis.
The data from the annual "Monitoring the Future" report, which surveys around 50,000 eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders every year since 1975. The rates of drinking among teens are the lowest they've been in the history of the study.
The use most of other "illicit drugs," like cocaine and inhalants, also continues to go down or hold steady, but more than a quarter of those polled said that they tried marijuana in the last year, which is the highest rate since 1981. The researchers suggest that the increasing availability of medical marijuana is a contributing factor, but that biggest reason is much simpler: Kids don't consider pot to be a dangerous drug. The idea that more and more teenagers consider booze to be more harmful than marijuana (and are acting accordingly) shows an interesting shift in the attitudes of drugs
This year, the study added a separate category for "synthetic marijuana," which is also on the rise (because you can buy it in head shops and gas stations), but is far more dangerous because it's often contaminated with other chemicals. Most of those substances were banned in 2011, which could effect the rate of usage in future years.
So the good news is that teenagers seem to be getting better at recognizing and assessing risk and are generally staying away from harder drugs. But if they think the risk is "none," well, then not much is going to stop them.