NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse
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Has drug use risen or declined among teens in the last five years?

For the most part, teens are taking better care of themselves today than in the past, and they are well informed about the downsides to drug taking. According to NIDA's Monitoring the Future Study--a national survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders--past month use of any illicit drug declined by 24% in the three grades combined between 2001 and 2007. This is driven, in large part, by declines in marijuana use. Also notable is the decrease in tobacco use, which is now at the lowest rate in the survey's history for all three grades.

However, there are areas that cause concern, particularly the non-medical use of prescription and over-the-counter medications, which can be quite dangerous and addictive. For example, 5.2% of seniors reported non-medical use of the opiate pain reliever OxyContin within the past year. And, the pain reliever Vicodin was abused by nearly one in ten 12th graders, second only to marijuana. In 2007, nearly 6% of 12th graders reported abusing over-the-counter cough and cold medicines at least once in the past year to get high.