New survey results released on Wednesday by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation indicate past-month marijuana use—especially heavy use—has increased significantly among U.S. high school students since 2008, even as abuse of prescription drugs has fallen and hard-drug use has remained steady.
That could be positive news—teens are becoming more likely to use a non-toxic herb than deadly pills. But of course, since The Partnership is a cultish anti-drug scare group, these findings are causing them much hand-wringing and drama.
Those of a calmer, less hysterical and more analytical bent, meanwhile, are quietly celebrating the fact that modern teens are becoming smart enough to distinguish between dangerous substances like opiates, alcohol, methamphetamine and cocaine and a relatively benign herb like cannabis.
The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, sponsored by MetLife Foundation, found that 9 percent of teens (nearly 1.5 million) smoked marijuana “heavily” (at least 20 times) in the past month. Overall, past-mnonth “heavy” marijuana use is up 80 percent among American teens since 2008, according to the study.
• Past-month use is up 42 percent (up from 19 percent in 2008 to 27 percent in 2011), translating to about 4 million teens.
• Past-year use is up 26 percent (up from 31 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2011), translating to about 6 million teens.
• Lifetime use is up 21 percent (up from 39 percent in 2008 to 47 percent in 2011), translating to about 8 million teens.
This marks a clear upward trend in teen marijuana use over the past three years. “The last time marijuana use was this widespread among teens was in 1998 when past month use of marijuana was at 27 percent,” according to the study.
|Drama king: Steve Pasierb of The Partnership at Drugfree.org: “Heavy use of marijuana—particularly beginning in adolescence—brings the risk of serous problems”|
“These findings are deeply disturbing as the increases we’re seeing in heavy, regular marijuana use among high school students can spell real trouble for these teens later on,” claimed Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org.
Yeah, of course you’re right Steve—regular marijuana use as a teen can later result in “real trouble” like, oh, becoming President, or winning the Olympics, or becoming the biggest country music star on the planet. Better watch out for that stuff!
“Heavy use of marijuana—particularly beginning in adolescence—brings the risk of serious problems and our data show it is linked to involvement in alcohol and other drugs as well,” Pasierb bullshitted. “Kids who begin using drugs or alcohol as teenagers are more likely to struggle with substance abuse disorders when compared to those who start using after the teenage years.”
According to the study, “Teen marijuana use has become a normalized behavior” (horrors!), with teens now reporting more of their peers smoking cannabis and only 26 percent agreeing with the statement, “In my school, most teens don’t smoke marijuana” (down from 37 percent in 2008).
Seventy-one percent of teens say they have friends who use marijuana regularly, up from 64 percent in 2008.
Social disapproval of marijuana among teens remained the same since 2008, with 61 percent of teens saying they disapprove of their peers using cannabis. (About 41 percent, the “goody two-shoes” contingent, say they “strongly disapprove.”)
The PATS data also found an erosion of anti-marijuana attitudes among teens, with only about half of teens (51 percent) saying they see “great risk” in using marijuana, down significantly from 61 percent in 2005. My oh my, these kids are learning the actual facts about cannabis! What ever shall we do?!
|New Public Health|
|Prof. Lloyd Johnston, University of Michigan: “We believe that this decline in perceived risk has played an important role in the increases in teen use of marijuana, as it has done in the past”|
“We have also seen a considerable decline over the past five years in the proportion of teens seeing great risk associated with marijuana use,” said Professor Lloyd Johnson, “principal investigator” of the nationwide Monitoring the Future study conducted at the University of Michigan.
“We believe that this decline in perceived risk has played an important role in the increases in teen use of marijuana, as it has done in the past,” tut-tutted Professor Johnson. “The fact that perceived risk is still falling portends a further increase in use.”
Those damn, pesky facts, eh, Professor? Wouldn’t academic life be ever-so-much easier without them?
The organizations behind the study went well beyond its actual findings in their press release, wildly claiming that the removal of wasteful, ineffective programs
such as The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign (which was actually shown to increase
drug use) and the elimination of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program “left a gaping hole where drug and alcohol education resources should be.”
What they didn’t mention was the fact that the laughably inaccurate, alarmist “information” provided by these groups was so ridiculous, so transparently false, that the expensive programs were a complete boondoggle and served only to disenchant teens, making them more inclined to disbelieve anything “authority figures” tell them about marijuana.
But of course that doesn’t keep the prohibitionist drug-warriors from have all sorts of dramatic little hissy-fits about the supposed crisis facing our teens.
“The latest findings showing an in crease in marijuana use among teens is unsettling and should serve as a wake-up call to everyone in a position to prevent unhealthy behavior,” claimed Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “While it may be difficult to clearly understand just how dangerous marijuana use can be for teens, it is imperative that we all pay attention to the warning signs and intervene anyway [sic] we can. Early intervention is critical to helping prevent teens from drug abuse and addiction.”
Study Contradicts Itself On Teen Prescsription Drug Use
Amusingly enough, the supposedly “scientific” study couldn’t even keep from contradicting itself in their tawdry little press release.
We are first told that teen past-month “heavy” marijuana users are 15 times more likely to abuse prescription pain relievers and 14 times more likely to abuse over-the-counter medicines.
But somehow, “the new PATS data did not show similar increases in teen abuse of medicines.” Now, if smoking lots of dope means they’ll abuse prescription and over-the-counter drugs at rates 14 to 15 times greater, then where are all those pill-popping teens?
The study’s authors had to admit their numbers showed teen lifetime abuse of medicines “held steady” between 2008 and 2011 at 17 percent for prescription drugs and 12 percent for over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.
“Among teens, past year abuse of the prescription pain relievers Vicodin and OxyContin, for example, has plateaued at about 10 percent,” they tell us.
Now, either “heavy” marijuana use increases teen prescription drug abuse (in which case we’d see higher numbers for both pot and pills), or it doesn’t (in which case we’d see pill use remain steady while pot use went up—WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT WE FUCKING SEE).
Meanwhile, it’s the parents themselves who are abusing more prescription drugs. More than one in 10 parents (15 percent) said they had used an Rx medication not prescribed for them at least once in the past year, a 25 percent increase from 2010 to 2011, according to the study.
Teen Boys and Hispanic Teens Leading Marijuana Increases
The PATS survey confirmed that teen boys are leading the overall increases in marijuana use. Past year use among boys is up 24 percent (from 34 percent in 2008 to 42 percent in 2011) and past month use among teen boys is up 38 percent (from 21 percent in 2008 to 29 percent in 2011).
Additionally, boys’ “heavy” use—smoking marijuana at least 20 times a month—is higher than that of their female counterparts (11 percent for teen boys vs. 6 percent for teen girls). Come on, girls, represent!
Boys’ “heavy” marijuana use is up an “alarming” 57 percent, according to the study (I, for one, am not very alarmed), from 7 percent in 2008 to 11 percent in 2011.
According to the new data, half of Hispanic teens (50 percent) report they’ve used marijuana in the past year, versus 40 percent for African-Americans and 35 percent for Caucasians. This means, according to the study’s authors, that Hispanic teens are “nearly twice as likely” (43 percent) as Caucasian teens (50 percent vs. 35 percent) and 25 percent more likely than African-American teens to have used weed in the past year.
Further giving the lie to the study’s own claims with the study’s own numbers is the fact that fewer teen girls are abusing Rx medications, despite the fact that more teen girls are smoking marijuana. Teen girls’ abuse of prescription drugs “to get high or alter your mood” is down 30 percent since 2010 (from 23 percent in 2010 to 16 percent in 2011), and is down a total of 24 percent since 2009 (21 percent in 2009).
Prescription drug abuse hasn’t gone up among boys, either, remaining relatively flat during the same time period, according to the study.
Even as teens become more accepting of marijuana use, they are starting to view pill abuse as less socially acceptable. The percentage of teens who “strongly disapprove” of their peers using prescription drugs to get high has gone up significantly, from 52 percent in 2010 to 58 percent in 2011.
But meanwhile, Professor Pasierb blithely ignored his own numbers, claiming the increased marijuana use—and acceptance of cannabis—by teens is nothing short of an impending apocalypse. Dramatic guy, that Professor Pasierb. He really should get an agent.
“These data set the scene for a ‘perfect storm’ that will threaten the health of a generation of American teens,” Pasierb emoted. “Science has shown that adolescent brains are still developing and are more easily harmed by drug and alcohol use than fully developed adult brains.
“Dramatic increases in teen marijuana use, coupled with entrenched behavior of abuse of Rx and OTC drugs, puts teens at greater risk for substance use disorders, academic decline and other problems,” he claimed. “With government budgets slashing the national prevention infrastructure and many prevention programs already eliminated, parents must step up to fill those voids, to protect their children’s health and futures.”
Here’s a useful translation for those of you who don’t speak Drug Warrior-ese:
“Help! Our moronic, ineffective anti-drug scare campaigns have become so obviously bad, they’ve been de-funded! Please pour more of your precious tax dollars into programs that demonstrably don’t work! We need your money! Pleeeease?”