At any newcomers Al-Anon meeting, more than half of those attending are parents, and more than half of them are parents in crisis. That is, their children are in crisis as well. Yet I haven’t found my feet “connecting” with parents on the Internet, but I came across some interesting information while taking a break from search engine optimization.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), most people are in their teens when they experiment with drugs for the first time. The study reports that more than 3 million new users tried illicit drugs in 2011, which amounts 8,400 users per day. Fifty-one percent of these are under the age of 18, with usage highest usage among people between the ages of 18 and 20.
Boy, Howdy, Parents.
NSDUH also reported in December 2012 that illicit drug use in America has increased 8.3 percent since 2002 — which includes illicit drugs or the abuse of psychotherapeutic medications such as pain relievers, stimulants and tranquilizers. Mostly, however, it reflects a rise in the use of marijuana.
Marijuana is cited as the most commonly used illicit drug, which increased between 2007 and 2011 to 18.1 million users. That’s 7 percent of people over the age of 12, up from 5.8 percent in 2007. Marijuana was the drug of choice for more than half of all new illicit drug users, followed by prescription pain relievers and inhalants (preferred by younger teens).
Interestingly, a survey by Monitoring the Future (MTF) notes that smoking peaked among teenagers in 1996-97, and has declined steadily since then, and that fewer teenagers smoke cigarettes than marijuana. In 2012, 17.1 percent of 12th graders were reported to have smoked cigarettes within the past month, compared to 22.9 percent current marijuana smokers.
Here is the good news: a decline in the use of illicit drugs other than marijuana, to include inhalants and cocaine. According the MTF survey, the use of inhalants by younger teens dropped significantly between 2007 and 2012, from 8.3 percent of 8th graders and 6.6 percent of 10th graders, to 6.2 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively. The use of cocaine among 12th graders dropped by nearly one half to 2.7 percent in this time frame. The use of Ecstasy (MDMA) has dropped measurably among teens, from 5.3 percent in 2011 to 3.8 percent in 2012.
There is more good news: The MTF survey also notes that consumption of alcohol is reaching historic lows among teens, with 5-year drops in the daily use of alcohol among teenagers in grades 8 through 12. By 2012, nearly 24 percent of high school seniors reported binge drinking (five or more drinks on one occasion), a drop of one-quarter from the late 1990s.
NSDUH reports that alcohol consumption for people between the ages of 12 and 20 declined by more than 3 percent between 2002 and 2011, while binge drinking declined 3.5 percent. Rates of alcohol dependence/abuse and treatment are also down by more than 1 percent, though over all figures show alcohol dependence ahead of other substances by nearly 2.5 percent.
While DUIs (Driving Under the Influence) have declined in the same time frame by just over 3 percent in this age group, one drunk driver is one too many on the highway. And alcohol retains the highest rate of dependence of abuse among all substances.
The good news/bad news is this: the use of drugs other than marijuana has not changed notably for the last ten years, and in some cases has declined. Cocaine users dropped by 1 million between 2006 and 2011, and the use of methamphetamine declined by 40 percent. The bad news is that marijuana use is gaining wider acceptance as societal attitudes change, and synthetic marijuana — herbs laced with synthetic cannabinoids — a growing concern; the abuse of prescription, over-the-counter medicines are popular among teens; and alcohol, though declining in over all usage, retains the highest level of dependency of all substances.
Plenty for parents to think about here. Me, I’m off to a meeting for some one-on-one connection.