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Teen Drug Use and Abuse Lowest in Two Decades

Teen Drug Use and Abuse Lowest in Two Decades

Teen Drug Use and Abuse Lowest in Two Decades

In a bit of good news, teen drug use and abuse is holding steady at the lowest levels in two decades! We’re excited to Gen Z leading healthier lifestyles that don’t involve alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. Just because more teens than ever are choosing to avoid drugs doesn’t mean the issue has completely gone away. Parents of teens must continue to be aware of the most commonly used drugs by teens and attentive to their teen’s behavior.

Every generation has a drug of choice, usually due to ease of access and sometimes media popularity. Gen Z’s no different. According to a Monitoring the Future survey of teens about drug use, the following substances topped the list of most commonly used and abused drugs.

Alcohol

Although alcohol use among teens has declined steadily since 1980, it remains the most commonly used and abused substance. The majority of adults who enter treatment programs for alcohol abuse began drinking before age 17. Currently, 33% of 12th graders, 19.7% of 10th graders, and 8% of 8th graders reported having used alcohol in the last 30 days.

Marijuana

The next most popular substance among teens is marijuana. As states pass medical and recreational marijuana laws, the substance becomes easier to access. In 2017 (the latest year for which we have data), 22.5% of high school seniors reported using marijuana. In 2016, the number of teens using marijuana surpassed those smoking cigarettes. The younger a person is when they began to experiment with marijuana, the more likely they are to experience negative side effects over their lifetime. Although laws regarding this substance for adults continue to change, it’s important to discourage the use of the substance among teens.

Tobacco

E-cigarettes and other tobacco products fill the number 3 and 4 spots on the list of most commonly used and abused substances by teens. Vaping is more easily concealed than smoking cigarettes and, when available, flavored e-cigarettes were an appealing alternative to other tobacco products. In the survey, 27.8% of high school seniors reported vaping in the last thirty days. In comparison, only 8% of high school students report smoking cigarettes in the last 30 days. 

Opioids

We started with good news and we’ll end with good news. Opioid use among teens continues to decline. Among high school seniors, 4.7% reported misusing opioids (taking them not according to or without a prescription). This does not include heroin use. Most opioid misuse among teens is from prescription drugs not heroin. The number of teens misusing opioids does grow as teens reach 18. 

Through all this good news, we must continue to talk to our teens about the dangers of drug use. Some teens use drugs to fit in with a social crowd, while others may use it as an escape for their current situation.

Everyone’s excited to share a little good news, especially during a time when bad news is so prevalent. However, if your child is part of the percent using or abusing these or any other substances the good news can be bittersweet.

If your teen is exhibiting changes in behavior, a lack of desire to participate in activities they previously enjoyed, or you find your teen using drugs or alcohol, reach out to our counselors or a teen addiction program. Finding help for your teen and your family is the first step toward healing. 

Read more about the drugs most commonly used and misused by teens here.

Heart Health and Marijuana Use

Heart Health and Marijuana Use

As of January, Illinois joins the growing number of states where recreational use of marijuana is legal. Eleven states allow adults over the age of 21 to purchase weed for recreational use, and thirty-three allow it for medical use. While Mississippi doesn’t fall into either of those categories, many residents use the substance illegally and others will experiment when visiting states where it is legal. We urge caution for all our patients, but particularly those with heart problems.

Studies have shown marijuana use increases heart rate, dilates blood vessels, and forces the heart to pump harder. This effect increases the risk of heart attack in the hour after smoking pot. 

A more recent study in England found an enlargement of the heart in regular marijuana users. Former users who stopped consumption of pot had normal-sized hearts leading researchers to believe the effect is reversible.

Because marijuana is still illegal in many states and countries, few studies about the long term effects exist. More studies are needed to understand the effects of both medical and recreational use of weed on the body.

Heart Health

Just because you don’t use marijuana doesn’t mean you’re in the clear for heart disease though. Almost everyone has some risk factors for heart disease. Some we can’t control such as:

  • Male sex
  • Older age
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Being postmenopausal
  • Race (African-Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans are more likely to have heart disease than Caucasians.)

Other risk factors we can control:

  • Smoking
  • High LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and low HDL, or “good” cholesterol
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity (having a BMI greater than 25)
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • High C-reactive protein
  • Uncontrolled stress, depression, and anger
  • Poor diet
  • Alcohol use

We have a doctor, nurse practitioners, and a dietician on staff to assist you as you work to decrease your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health. 


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