Teens’ Attitudes About Drugs Worry Health Researchers

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Teens in recent years have become more indifferent to the harms associated with drug use and abuse, according to the 2009 Monitoring the Future study of youth substance abuse habits and attitudes. 

While some of the results from the survey were positive, such as decreases among young people in the use of cocaine, methamphetamine and hallucinogens, their overall mentality about drug use – and the gradual uptick in marijuana use among adolescents and teens over the past few years – worried researchers. 

“Changes in these beliefs and attitudes are often very influential in driving changes in use,” said Lloyd Johnston, the study’s principal investigator, in a statement. 

Among eighth- and 10th-graders, rates of peer disapproval and risk associated with the use of pot declined. At the same time, the use of marijuana among young people, which had been waning for nearly a decade, tilted up, researchers said. 

Teen abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs was also up among eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders, the annual survey found. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs account for seven of the 10 most abused drugs by high school seniors. The use of alcohol declined but still remains the most abused drug by teens. 

The University of Michigan survey has tracked U.S. teen drug use rates for the National Institute on Drug Abuse since 1975.