The Chronicle @ Kettle Run
Teen Marijuana Use Rises, Alcohol Use DropsFriday, January 27, 2012 By Marion Silas
While alcohol use among teens has dropped to a historic low, teen marijuana use, on a daily basis, has reached a 30-year peak, according to a recent survey. The annual Monitor the Future survey, executed by the University of Michigan for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, surveyed 47,000 eighth-tenth graders about drug use in 2011. Eighth graders, as well as high school sophomores and seniors, were included in the nationwide survey. The survey found that marijuana use has risen among teens for the fourth straight year, with increases in daily, or near-daily, use across all grades. This year, however, daily use is at a 30-year peak among high school seniors at 6.6%. The increase in marijuana use accords with a decrease in “perceived risk” of using the drug across the three surveyed grade levels. “I know a lot of people who smoke marijuana, regardless of grade level,” freshman Caroline Silas said. “I’m not surprised about the trend because there are always things on television about doing drugs.” Freshman Sharon Kwarteng believes there is a correlation between the two variables and agrees that the media plays a role in the decision to try illicit drugs. “Pot is in the media a lot more now,” Kwarteng said. “I think the media influences teens to make decisions based on what they see on television or listen to in music. Alcohol isn't as 'cool' as it once was, so people are trying marijuana.” Contrastingly, cigarette use decreased this year, while teen alcohol use hit at an all-time low. This historic low is following a long-term downward trend that the survey explains could be due to greater awareness of the dangers surrounding alcohol use. Junior Caroline Gallaway agrees with this explanation. “I think the smoking decreased because of age limits, laws preventing advertisement of cigarettes, and greater awareness of the risk of lung cancer.” “I think that advertisements and campaigns aimed toward underage drinking and drunk driving have had a huge impact on teens’ decisions about drinking,” senior Megan Graap agreed. Kwarteng, however, is not as sure that awareness is the biggest factor in this type of trend. “Awareness might inform them and help in their decision of trying whatever substance we’re talking about, but I think peer pressure can be involved as well.” Other illicit drugs saw decreases, such as crack cocaine, over-the-counter medications, and the prescriptions Adderall and Vicodin. “What this survey is basically saying, in other words, is that weed is the new alcohol, and later on, it will change from weed to something else,” Kwarteng said.