The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has revealed that the use of drugs and smoking is on the decline among the youngsters in the US. There has however been an increase in the usage of prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. The University of Michigan conducted the 2005 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey for the NIH, and concluded that the overall results were good.
It found that cigarette smoking was at its lowest level since the survey began in 1975, and overall drug use among teens and adolescents continued to decline. However, Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health, said there remained areas of concern with specific drugs of abuse such as prescription painkillers.
"Prescription drugs are very powerful medicines that are effective when used properly and with a doctor's supervision. Using these drugs without prescription is dangerous. It's imperative that teens get this message," she said. While there was no substantive change in any illicit drug use between 2004 and 2005, analysis of the survey revealed an almost 19% decline in past month use of any illicit drug by Class 8, 10, and 12 students between 2001 and 2005.
This trend is driven largely by decreasing rates of marijuana use among these students, the study contends. For example, since 2001, the past month use of marijuana has fallen by 28% among Class 8 students and by 23% among Class 10 students.
Since 1975 the MTF survey has measured drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes among adolescent students nationwide. Survey participants report their drug use behaviors across three time periods like lifetime, past year, and past month.
Overall, 49,347 students in the Classes 8, 10, and 12 from 402 public and private schools participated in this year's survey.
While the 2005 survey showed a continuing general decline in drug use, there are continued high rates of non-medical use of prescription medications, especially opioid painkillers.
For example, in 2005, 9.5% of Class 12 students reported using Vicodin (a painkiller) in the past year, and 5.5% of them reported using OxyContin (a painkiller) in the past year.
Long-term trends show a significant increase in the abuse of OxyContin from 2002 to 2005 among Class 12 students. Also of concern is the significant increase in the use of sedatives/barbiturates among 12th graders since 2001, the report says.