New Survey Shows Teen Alcohol And Drug Use Is Down Overall

By McCarton Ackerman 03/13/14

Despite a precipitous drop since 2000, teenagers increasingly have a more relaxed attitude toward drugs.

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A new study from Ohio shows that alcohol and drug use among teenagers is declining overall. The survey from the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati showed that alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use have declined by 25 to 50 percent since 2000. But despite the drop, even teenagers who don’t use marijuana are showing a more relaxed attitude about the drug.

Only 17.8 percent of teens in the survey said they had used alcohol during the last 30 days, while just 9.8 percent had used cigarettes. Approximately 11.4 percent of the teenagers used marijuana and just 4.3 percent used prescription drugs illegally. Mary Haag, president of the coalition, said the goal is to reach single-digit percentages for all substances.

But while there has been progress with the overall decline, many anti-drug workers and parents believe there’s still work to be done. "It's obvious that while the overall numbers may be going down, there's still a lot of kids using and experimenting," said Melanie Stutenroth, a Cincinnati-area mother of three. Bonnie Hedrick, prevention alliance coordinator for the Northern Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy, said her organization is working to “start targeting more effective prevention strategies so we can change the trajectory of these kids.”

A survey from earlier this week also showed that teen painkiller abuse had drastically dropped throughout Ohio. Approximately 21.3 percent of high school students in Ohio had reported using painkillers without a prescription at least once in their life during a 2011 poll, but new statistics from the 2013 Ohio Risk Youth Behavior Survey now report that fewer than 12.8 percent of current high school students have used painkillers without a doctor’s note.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.