Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Rate of Daily Marijuana Use among Youth Raises Concerns: Physicians, Policy Makers, and Patients Urged to Remain Vigiliant

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Rate of Daily Marijuana Use among Youth Raises Concerns: Physicians, Policy Makers, and Patients Urged to Remain Vigiliant

Article excerpt

Cigarette smoking continues to decline among U.S. teens, but rates of daily use of e-cigarettes and marijuana remain high. In fact, high school seniors report smoking marijuana at higher rates than tobacco cigarettes.

Those are a few of the key findings of the 2015 Monitoring the Future report.

Researchers surveyed 41,551 students from 377 public and private schools in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades to determine drug use habits across the United States.

"We are heartened to see that most illicit drug use is not increasing, non-medical use of prescription opioids is decreasing, and there is improvement in alcohol and cigarette use rates," Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in a statement. "However, continued areas of concern are the high rate of daily marijuana smoking seen among high school students because of marijuana's potential deleterious effects on the developing brains of teenagers, and the high rates of overall tobacco products and nicotine containing e-cigarettes usage."

The report found that 9.5% of 8th-graders, 14.0% of 10th-graders, and 16.2% of 12th-graders had used e-cigarettes in the month prior to being surveyed. Those numbers are roughly on par with what was reported last year, when the survey found that 9%, 16%, and 17% of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders, respectively, recently had used e-cigarettes.

High school seniors alone reported relatively high rates of nicotine use (22.2%) and marijuana or hash oil (6.1%) inhalation, as well. Overall, 66.2% of high school seniors surveyed reported not knowing exactly what they had inhaled. The 2015 report also marks the first time daily cigarette use was lower than daily marijuana use among 12th-graders: 5.5% vs. 6%. Furthermore, 21.3% reported having used marijuana in the last month, compared with 11.4% who reported smoking cigarettes.

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During a teleconference announcing the findings, Dr. Volkow said the higher prevalence of marijuana over cigarette smoking 'reflects attitudes" among America's youth--something that she stressed needs to be addressed by health care providers and policy makers. According to the report, 31.9% of seniors said regular use of marijuana could be harmful, compared with 36. …

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