In the United States, preventing the use of mind altering substances among teenagers is a top priority for public health officials and lawmakers. The use of drugs and alcohol can have a dramatic impact on developing minds, and can lead to addiction. In recent years there has been a lot of concern about the changing mood regarding marijuana, and the message that new laws might send to America’s youth.
While research on medical marijuana programs and legalization laws is limited as to its impact on adolescents, new research suggests that teenage marijuana use is on the rise, HealthDay reports. Although, teenage cigarette and alcohol use is declining.
Researchers at Penn State analyzed data from a survey of almost 600,000 high school seniors. Before 2011, teenage American whites were more likely to smoke cigarettes than marijuana, according to the article. In 2013, the analysis showed that nearly 25 percent of black teens used marijuana, and nearly 10 percent smoked cigarettes. In the same year almost 22 percent of white teens used marijuana, and about 19 percent smoked cigarettes.
Our analysis shows that public health campaigns are working — fewer teens are smoking cigarettes,” said lead researcher, Stephanie Lanza, in a news release. “However, we were surprised to find the very clear message that kids are choosing marijuana over cigarettes.”
When it came to teenage alcohol use, the researchers found that teenage alcohol use has been on the decline since the mid-1970s; however, white teens still used alcohol more than any other substance, the article reports. Over the course of the study, white teenagers used alcohol more than black teenagers.
The indication of declining alcohol and cigarette use rates is promising. However, it is important to keep in mind that past research has shown that the use of marijuana can have an adverse effect on developing brains. The rise in teenage marijuana use should be of concern.
The findings are published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol or marijuana, please contact Pace Recovery Center.