Dr. Nora Volkow speaking:
Marijuana use in the United States among teenagers is the most frequently illicit substance of use, and if you look at the numbers, for example, of the past year of marijuana use, close to 36% of 12thgraders report having used in the past year.
There are some very worrisome trends, where we have seen significant increases in daily use of marijuana, both amongst eight and tenth graders, from last year to this year.
And this is very worrisome, because we know that the younger you initiate the use of a substance, including marijuana, the greater the risk that you will become addicted to it.
And if you look at changes in the rate of kids that are vaping marijuana, we’ve seen almost a doubling in the number of teenagers that are vaping marijuana on the past year and over two years.
And we’ve also seen almost a doubling of vaping in the past month.
So, among 12th graders, for example, last year was close to seven, a little bit over 7% and this year is a little bid over 14%.
And this increase in the past month, vaping of marijuana, is the second highest increase in a trend that we’ve seen since the inception of Monitoring the Future.
The trends of increases of vaping of nicotine continue and they are very, very significant.
For example, if you go to the indicator of past month vaping among teenagers, 12th graders, 25% of them has vaped nicotine in the past month.
Among 10th graders, 20% percent have vaped in the past month.
And also, the rate of vaping nicotine daily is very high and we are seeing that amongst 12th graders the rate is 12% of them are vaping nicotine daily, which is a frequency rate associated with a very, very high risk of becoming addicted to nicotine.
The very high rate of vaping of nicotine that we’re observing among high school students is very worrisome because we have done extraordinary progress as it relates to decreasing consumption of tobacco among 12th graders, 8th graders, 10th graders.
We are at the lowest rates that we’ve ever had since the inception of Monitoring the Future.
So, we have 2.4% of 12th graders, for example, reporting that they are using tobacco products daily, cigarettes in particular.
Whereas we’re seeing 12% of them vaping nicotine on a daily basis.
So, this is of great concern.
And the other aspect of it, when you are dealing with nicotine through vaping, is that you are delivering the nicotine in a very efficient way, but also at very high content.
And we’re also seeing that patterns where teenagers are escalating much faster, than what happens when you’re smoking cigarettes.
The good news in terms of drug use, is that basically, except for vaping, drug use has been going down and some of the lowest levels that we’ve seen.
And this is actually pertinent to opioids, because we’re seeing an opioid crisis across the country and yet prevalence of opiate use among teenagers is very low.
For example, as it relates to prescription opioids, the most frequent used prescription opioid is Vicodin among teenagers and it has gone down from 10.5 to 1%, a dramatic reduction.
Similarly, the use of heroin among 12th graders is 0.4%.
So, even though we are seeing this high rate of use of these substances in adults, we fortunately are not seeing it in adolescents.
The news with alcohol is also very good, they are going down in basically all of our indicators.
And certainly the most concerning was the use of binge drinking, which is significantly down, regular drinking, which is significantly down and this is actually seen across 8th, 10th and 12th graders.
So, there are good news, as it relates to many drugs, but very worrisome news at it relates to the use of vaping devices for nicotine and vaping devices for cannabis.
And we need to understand if this trend continues, because if it does, then that is something that we need to pay attention to, to intervene, to prevent it from happening.