Many Americans hoping for a healthier country may be rejoicing thanks to the recently passed health care bill, but this weekend’s news obscured one troubling report: Drug use among teens is on the rise for the first time in more than a decade.
ABC News reports that 39% of teens in grades 9-12 admitted to drinking alcohol, an increase of 11% from the previous year. Similarly, marijuana use has increased by 11% to 39%. One of the steepest increases was seen with ecstasy use. In 2008, just 6% of teens admitted to using the drug, but in 2009 that jumped to 10%.
By comparison, about 20% of teens admitted to abusing over-the-counter prescription drugs at least once, which is on par with previous years. And teen smoking rates have also remained constant at 25%.
More than 3,000 teens and 800 parents were surveyed in this study, which was a joint effort between the Partnership for A Drug Free America and the MetLife Foundation. According to ABC, the results were “startling to drug-prevention advocates,” but there are several possible explanations including “a decrease in federal funding for drug-prevention programs in schools and the media,” and more “pro-drug cues in popular culture.”
Sean Clarkin, the director of strategy at Partnership for A Drug Free America, singled out the “zillion videos” on YouTube of young people doing drugs and getting high as being a particularly bad influence. He argues that the only way parents and legislators will be able to combat the rise in drug use is to start more “education campaigns in schools and through the media.”