Photo: Half of Latino Teens Report Smoking Pot in Last Year
Only Half of Teens, 51 Percent, Now Say They See “Great Risk” in Using Marijuana Regularly
~Teen Abuse of Rx and Over-The-Counter Medicines Remain at Dangerous Levels~
New, nationally projectable survey results released today by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation found that past-month marijuana use – particularly heavy use – has increased significantly among U.S. high school students since 2008.
The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, sponsored by MetLife Foundation, found that 9 percent of teens (nearly 1.5 million) smoked marijuana heavily (at least 20 times) in the past month. Overall, past-month heavy marijuana use is up 80 percent among U.S. teens since 2008.
Trends in Teen Marijuana Use According to the New PATS Data (2008-2011)
-Past-month use is up 42 percent (up from 19 percent in 2008 to 27 percent in 2011, which translates to about 4 million teens).
-Past-year use is up 26 percent (up from 31 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2011, which translates to about 6 million teens).
-Lifetime use is up 21 percent (up from 39 percent in 2008 to 47 percent in 2011, which translates to nearly 8 million teens).
This marks an upward trend in teen marijuana use over the past three years. The last time marijuana use was this widespread among teens was in 1998 when past month use of marijuana was at 27 percent.
Teen Boys and Hispanic Teens Leading Marijuana Increases, Fewer Teen Girls Abusing Rx Medicines
The PATS survey confirms that teen boys are leading the overall increases in marijuana use. Past year use among teen boys is up 24 percent (from 34 percent in 2008 to 42 percent in 2011) and past month use among teen boys is up 38 percent (from 21 percent in 2008 to 29 percent in 2011). Additionally, boys’ heavy use – smoking marijuana at least 20 times a month – is higher than that of their female counterparts (11 percent for teen boys vs. 6 percent for teen girls) and boys’ heavy marijuana use is up an alarming 57 percent, from 7 percent in 2008 to 11 percent in 2011.
According to the new data, half of Hispanic teens (50 percent) report that they have used marijuana in the past year (versus 40 percent for African Americans and 35 percent for Caucasians). This means Hispanic teens are nearly twice as likely (43 percent) as Caucasian teens to have smoked marijuana in the past year (50 percent vs. 35 percent) and 25 percent more likely than African-American teens.
The study also found that fewer teen girls are abusing Rx medications. Teen girls’ abuse of a prescription drug “to get high or alter your mood” is down 30 percent since 2010 (from 23 percent in 2010 to 16 percent in 2011) and is down a total of 24 percent since 2009 (21 percent in 2009). Rx drug abuse among teen boys has remained relatively flat over the same time period.
Teens are starting to view medicine abuse as less socially acceptable and the percentage of teens who “strongly disapprove” of peers using prescription drugs to get high has gone up significantly – from 52 percent in 2010 to 58 percent in 2011. Fewer also say it’s “very” or “fairly” easy for teens to get prescription pain relievers, down 25 percent from 57 percent in 2008 to 43 percent in 2011.