December 19, 2012 —

As a parent or family member of a teenager, it can seem impossible to understand what’s on their mind – especially when it comes to drug, alcohol, or medicine abuse. But between slang terms and the latest trends with risky behaviors it can feel impossible to wade through the information to get the facts.

Every year the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the University of Michigan survey over 45,000 teenagers for the annual Monitoring the Future report. This report is a great tool for parents, teachers, and health professionals to understand the trends in teen abuse of alcohol, medicine, and drugs. The 2012 results were just announced this morning, and we wanted to share some of the highlights:

  • While overall drug use was unchanged from last year, the percent of eighth graders reporting cocaine, heroin, LSD, or hallucinogen usage in the past month has fallen since 2011. However, these numbers are offset by an increase in illicit drug use among 12th graders since 2011.
  • There has been a decline in attitudes towards marijuana abuse; fewer teens perceive it as harmful, which cold signify future drug use
  • For the first time, synthetic drugs such as “bath salts” were included in the report; the findings show that 0.8 percent, 0.6 percent, and 1.3 percent of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders have reported using them in the past month.
  • The rate of teen cough medicine abuse has remained at approximately 5% since 2011.
  • When it comes to gender, boys and girls start at similar rates of illicit drug use in 8th grade. However, by the time they reach 12th grade, boys tend to have higher rates.

As you can see, we still have work to do. You can read more about the report findings here. Stay tuned to our blog in the coming weeks to hear more from the Five Moms about what this report means for you and your family, and post your questions and comments below!