Monday, December 19, 2011

Underage drinking rates decline, teen marijuana use rates increase

Last week, results from the nationwide Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey were released and the findings include:

~ Marijuana use among teens rose in 2011 for the fourth straight year -- a sharp contrast to the considerable decline that had occurred in the preceding decade.  Daily marijuana use is now at a 30-year peak level among high school seniors.

~ Underage drinking -- and, importantly, occasions of heavy drinking -- continued a long-term gradual decline among teens, reaching historically low levels in 2011. 

Why is teen marijuana use increasing?
The MTF report states: One possible explanation for the resurgence of marijuana use is that in recent years fewer teens report seeing much danger associated with its use, even with regular use.  "Perceived risk", as the investigators call it -- which the study has shown is often a harbinger of changes to come in the use of a drug -- has been falling rather sharply for marijuana in the past five years or so . . .

How do local use rates compare to national rates?
Here are the 10th grade current (30-day) marijuana use rates from MTF and local Healthy Youth Survey data:
  • MTF: 18%
  • Washington State: 20%
  • King County: 18%
  • Seattle Schools: 22%
  • Nathan Hale High School: 21%
  • Roosevelt High School: 23%
Among Hale 10th grade students, use rates have declined since 2008 when 29% of them reported currently using marijuana.  Like the nation, Roosevelt 10th grade marijuana use rates have steadily increased over the past few years -- 18% in 2006, 20% in 2008 and 23% in 2010.

Detailed Healthy Youth Survey data for Nathan Hale, Roosevelt and Seattle Schools may be accessed through the Prevention WINS website.  Other Healthy Youth Survey data may be accessed through

Science-based information about marijuana, including a fact sheet about Adolescents and Marijuana, is available through the University of Washington's Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute

No comments: