The percentage of 12th grade students who said they had used marijuana at least once in the past 30 days almost doubled between 2018 and 2019, according to the new data from the Monitoring the Future survey. The increase, from 7.5 percent to 14 percent, was the second largest jump in the use of any drug found in the annual survey, which has asked eighth, tenth and twelfth grade students in the United States about its use of drugs and opinions about the last 45 years. (The first biggest jump was last year's jump in teenage vaping.)
"We are seeing a fairly marked increase in the use of vaping products to ingest marijuana," says Jack Stein, chief of staff of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funds the survey.
Vaping nicotine is also still popular among teenagers: 25 percent of 12th grade students said they had vaped nicotine in the past 30 days, and 11.7 percent said they had consumed nicotine every day. About 8 percent of 12th grade students said they vaped because they are "hooked" this year, compared to just 3.6 percent in 2018.
These increases are particularly worrisome for researchers studying the potential health risks of vaping. First, there was a peak of terrifying lung lesions associated with the vaping of illicit products containing THC during the summer and autumn. Then, a recent study of more than 30,000 people found that people who use electronic cigarettes have a higher risk of developing a respiratory illness after only three years of using the products. The risk of disease is even less with vaping than with traditional cigarettes. However, only a small percentage of teenagers smoke traditional cigarettes, and smoking rates continue to fall, so when teenagers pick up vaping, they often add damage that doesn't exist before.
It is important to keep in mind that data from the Future Monitoring survey is collected between February and June of each year, so adolescents were asked about their drug use before reports of injuries and deaths began to circulate related to vaping. "Next year, I imagine, we will see an increase in perceived (vaping) risk," says Richard Miech, co-investigator of the Monitoring the Future study and a professor at the University of Michigan. In general, among adolescents, as the perceived risk of a substance increases, its use decreases. "We'll see if we see a decrease in vaping along with that next year," he says.
The survey also found that daily marijuana use increased from 2018 to 2019 for eighth and tenth grade students. It is likely that this is related to the increase in vaping, says Miech. It makes sense, especially for use in schools. If you can vape it, you can have Juul in your pocket. Obstacles that prevent some teenagers from using marijuana at school all the time are defeated, and the technology allows children to use it more than they would otherwise, "he says. Just under 5 percent of tenth students They said they use marijuana on a daily basis, compared to 3.4 percent in 2018, and 3 percent say they specifically vape marijuana daily.
In general, marijuana use has remained fairly stable in recent years, although both daily consumption and the marijuana vaporizer have increased. That could be due to one of the two scenarios, says Miech: it could be that instead of smoking weed, teenagers are smoking weed. Or, he says, it could be that teenagers who smoke marijuana are also vaping it. "Because daily use is increasing, it may be more consistent with the second. They are not just replacing smoking with smoking," he says.
It is surprising that there have been few changes in marijuana use in recent years, says Miech, because data from Monitoring the Future show that teenagers have found that marijuana is becoming less and less risky over time. But that has not led to an increase in use. That pattern could be related to the combination of two factors: the use of cigarettes among adolescents has plummeted over the years, and the fact that children who have never smoked are much less likely to consume marijuana, says Miech .
"More and more of these children have never smoked a cigarette, that is growing substantially," he says. "If it had not been for that decrease, the use of marijuana will probably be at the highest levels we have ever seen. But as tobacco consumption has been reduced, marijuana has been reduced."
However, these patterns may change if children who drink nicotine start using marijuana, similar to the way children who smoke cigarettes are more likely to smoke marijuana. "I think it's too early to know. Vaping hasn't been around for so long. But it seems like he can," says Miech.
Use of other substances.
The Monitoring the Future survey also showed that teenagers' use of other drugs, such as prescription opioids and alcohol, continues to decline.
The abuse of Oxycontin and Vicodin among 12th grade students has been at its lowest levels since 2002, according to the survey. In general, the numbers have never been really high. But they have been declining, which is important, says Stein. Adderall use also continues to decline among 10th and 12th grade students, although more eighth grade students report using Adderall: 2.5 percent said they used it in 2019, compared to 1.3 percent in 2014.
Alcohol consumption has also declined in the last five years: only 52.1 percent of 12th grade students reported having consumed alcohol in the last year in 2019 compared to approximately 60 percent in 2014. In addition, only 14.4 percent of older people in the 2019 survey said they were in excess. Drink: Drink five or more drinks in a row. That is one every five percentage points since 2014, when 19.4 percent of seniors said s.
"It's a constant trend. Alcohol is really the most used drug," says Stein. "The reason is hard to say, but we hope that very aggressive prevention efforts are helping."