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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) sponsored a report that was released this week stating that marijuana use and vaping are now more popular amongst teens than cigarette smoking. The National Survey of Adolescent Drug Use surveyed 43,703 eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders in public and private schools across the country.
22.9% of high school seniors reported that they had used marijuana within the past month. 16.6% of high school seniors reported the use of a vaping device within the past month. Only 9.7% of high school seniors reported smoking a cigarette int he past month. Overall, the survey found that teen consumption of substances including alcohol, tobacco, prescription opioids, and stimulants has either fallen or held steady since last year, making those the lowest rates in 20 years.
Contrary to other substance abuse rates, marijuana use amongst teens has remained consistent in the past few years, with only small shifts in usage. However, studies show that marijuana rates have risen among young adults in the past decade.
While general substance abuse trends have gone down (barring marijuana use and vaping), the trend towards vaping among teens is most concerning. Although vaping is generally viewed as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes because it does not include carcinogens that come with burning tobacco, the long-term health problems associated with vaping are still unknown. Additionally, experts are concerned that vaping will expose more people to nicotine and marijuana as the view vaping as harmless.
According to the survey, one in twenty twelfth graders reported using marijuana in vaping devices in the past month, and one in ten reported using nicotine in vaping devices in the past month. Vaping seems to be on the uptick amongst all social groups of teens.
Additionally, teen views of the risks of marijuana are falling. Whereas in 1991 40.6% of seniors felt that smoking marijuana was risky, now only 14.1% of seniors feel there is risk associated with the use of marijuana. Nearly 24% of students in all three grades surveyed reported using marijuana in the past year, a rate that has stayed relatively steady. Because marijuana use amongst teens can disturb brain development, there is, indeed, risk involved with youth use of the drug.