Teen Marijuana Use Up, Alcohol Use at Historic Lows

Family Matters on 12.29.11
Contributor bio | twitter

If you're a 40-something parent, you've probably seen those "Cheech and Chong" movies from way back.

But smoking marijuana is not as popular today as it was in the 1970s and 1980s, right? Wrong.

Parents raising teens probably have more to worry about with pot than they do with booze, it turns out.

The latest Monitoring the Future survey of U.S. secondary school students includes some surprising findings:

  • Marijuana use among teens rose in 2011 for the fourth straight year. That's compared to the preceding decade, when there was a considerable decline;
  • Daily marijuana use is at a 30-year high (pun intended) among high school seniors;

"Put another way, one in every fifteen high school seniors today is smoking pot on a daily or near daily basis," says Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator of the study. "And that's the highest rate that we have seen over the past thirty years—since 1981."

  • One in every nine high school seniors also reported using "synthetic marijuana" in the last 12 months. It's the first time questions on synthetic pot have been included in the survey;
  • And some good news: Alcohol use and heavy drinking continues to decline among teens, reaching historically level lows in 2011.

The survey is done by the University of MIchigan's Institute for Social Research and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. A total of 47,000 students were surveyed in 2011, from 8th, 10th and 12th grades at 400 public and private secondary schools.

You can read more of the Monitoring the Future findings via the U of M, but before you do, consider what they may mean to parenting, and raising your teens, or almost teens (in my case).

Do you talk to them about alcohol? What about pot?

Researchers say one possible explanation for the resurgence of marijuana use among teens is that fewer teens report seeing much danger associated with use of the drug. What are you telling your kids?

- Photo by Torben Hansen

Top Stories on Drugs and Kids
Unsuspecting Parents Provide Drugs to 70 Percent of New Teen Users
Real Parents Weigh in: Would You Serve Your Teen Alcohol at Home? (Video Blog)
Tired Teens More Likely to Engage in Risky Behaviors