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NIDA Monitoring The Future: 2012 Teen Survey

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Some of the arguably adverse effects of the new marijuana legalization include the impact on the nation’s youth, high school students in particular. A recent USA Today article claims that 1 in 15 high school seniors are now using pot recreationally on a daily basis. The statistics come from a survey conducted by Monitoring the Future, a survey team out of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, and funded by a grant from the National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA). This survey, focusing on teen drug abuse, asked questions to over 45,000 students in 395 public schools. Prescription drug use held majority sway, which comes as no surprise as they are the most prevalent and easily accessible of all mind-altering substances. But it is high school students’ opinion on weed that is the most intriguing news we can glean from the survey.

N.I.D.A.’s Annual Teen Survey

According to the survey by Monitoring the Future, not only do roughly a sixth of those survey smoke everyday, but almost a quarter (1 in 5) smoked in the month prior to taking the survey. In a startling find, 80% of those questioned do not believe pot smoking to be harmful, the highest rate since 1983. Marijuana legalization will change an entire generation’s perspective on mind-altering substances, potential substance abuse and addictions notwithstanding. Fewer and fewer teens are now considering weed to be not harmful, which will be a direct correlation to other drugs no matter what pot proponents say. Maybe not everyone will be affected, but the correlation exists nonetheless.

To prove this hypothesis, the survey shows a graph that reflects the last 20 years of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use by high school students (8th to 12th grade). While the drinking and cigarette smoking (or cigar) has gone down, illicit drug use has gone up, led by prescription drugs like Vicodin, oxycodone, Xanax and Adderall. Closely following this trend in pill popping, is pot smoking. Marijuana legislation in Colorado and Washington will not help this, obviously. A report was also released earlier this year about the cognitive effects of prolonged use in teens from ages 13-18 through adulthood that shows a decrease in I.Q. for lifelong pot smokers.

NIDA’s Monitoring The Future

The survey may indeed communicate adverse portents of future rises in drug abuse. While skeptics may question the authority of such surveys, and while it is a small sample, NIDA’s Monitoring The Future has been conducting these surveys for the last 30 years, which reflects the solidarity of such surveys. No one can accurately foresee what will be the social outcomes from the nascent marijuana legalization legislations in Colorado and Washington. What is unarguable though is the trend away from “traditional” substances such as alcohol and tobacco, to the more illicit drugs and narcotics like bath salts and prescription drugs. Weed is now somewhere in the middle, gaining acceptance and tolerance undoubtedly from Colorado and Washington passing the marijuana legalization bills.

Whatever the trend, there is always help for those who are trying to rebuild their lives from the wreckage that recreational drug use exploded into. While the social status quo in regards to mind-altering substances continues to transition and change, the affects of long-term drug abuse are not, and are even getting worse. Call us for more information to help you or someone you love with alcoholism or a drug addiction or dependence of any kind: 1-800-861-1768.

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