A new report offers mixed findings on the use of mood-altering drugs among teens.
The report by The Partnership at Drugfree.org reveals:
• More teens are smoking marijuana.
• Use of harder illegal drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine, has stabilized.
• Abuse of prescription drugs has eased slightly, but remains high.
The results are disturbing for Partnership President Steve Pasierb. "Parents are talking about cocaine and heroin, things that scare them," he said. "Parents are not talking about prescription drugs and marijuana. They can't wink and nod. They need to be stressing the message that this behavior is unhealthy."
In the aftermath of a rash of heroin overdoses, including fatalities, a dialogue has started to educate the community about the problem, recognition of warning signs and resources for recovery.
That's important, but we must broaden our focus on drug abuse, not shift it from one substance to another.
With regard to marijuana use by teens, the survey found past-month usage at 27 percent last year, up from 19 percent in 2008.
In addition, the rate of teens who smoked marijuana 20 times or more in a month escalated to 9 percent last year, up from 5 percent in 2008. And teens in that category were almost twice as likely to use ecstasy, cocaine or crack, in comparison to less-frequent pot smokers.
That statistic reinforces the concept that frequent marijuana use serves as a gateway to harder drugs.
The attraction of mood-altering substances all too often invites subsequent difficulties and dangers, including incarceration, addiction and overdose.