Rates of Alcohol, Tobacco Use Down Among U.S. Teens

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Rates of Alcohol, Tobacco Use Down Among U.S. Teens
Rates of Alcohol, Tobacco Use Down Among U.S. Teens

FRIDAY, Sept. 11, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- The percentage of youth ages 12 to 17 who smoke, drink, or abuse certain drugs is falling, according to 2014 survey data released Thursday by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The annual government survey involves about 67,500 Americans aged 12 and older. According to the survey, the rate at which youth between 12 and 17 said they had drank alcohol over the prior month has fallen from 17.6 percent in 2002 to 11.5 percent by 2014. While 3.2 percent of teens said they had abused opioids in 2002, the rate had fallen to 1.9 percent by 2014. Rates of smoking and other tobacco use are dropping precipitously as well, from 15.2 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds in 2002 to just 7 percent by 2014.

However, more teens are using marijuana. The number is up from 9.4 percent of children aged 12 to 17 in 2013, to 10.2 percent a year later. In a statement, SAMHSA attributed the rise, in part, to "the increase in adult marijuana use." Even more troubling, the new report found that the rate at which teens under 18 used heroin rose from 0.1 percent in 2013 to 0.2 percent in 2014.

"We know that evidence-based prevention efforts are the most effective way to reduce drug use and to support the roughly 90 percent of American youth who do not use illicit drugs," Michael Botticelli, the White House's Director of National Drug Control Policy, said in a SAMHSA news release.

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