Statistics Show Teen Drug Use Continues on the Decline

Dayton, Ohio-The 2006 Dayton Area Drug Survey (DADS) results show that there is good news for those concerned about the health, safety, and welfare of young people. The data show there has been a significant decrease in the use of tobacco products and marijuana by area teenagers and that the number of teens in the Miami Valley who have lifetime experience with cigarettes is at the lowest level since 1990.

DADS is a biennial, cross-sectional study that provides estimates of teen drug, tobacco, and alcohol abuse, along with other issues. The survey of area adolescents is a collaborative effort between area school districts, the Center for Interventions, Treatment, and Addictions Research (CITAR) at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, and United Health Solutions. It has been conducted since 1990, and area schools are invited to participate on a no-charge basis. Students voluntarily respond anonymously to a 63-item, self-report questionnaire.

For the first time in the history of DADS, less than half-only 43%-of the 12th graders surveyed reported ever having smoked a cigarette, down from 51% in 2004. The percentage of 12th graders who reported smoking at least one cigarette per day in the past month also declined, from 14% to 11%. Significant decreases also occurred in cigarette use at all other grade levels surveyed. These findings are consistent with those from national studies.

From a public health perspective, the declining number of teen smokers means that there are likely to be fewer adult smokers in the future. Equally important, from a substance abuse prevention perspective, is that when tobacco, a "gateway drug," declines in usage, this often predicts a future decline in the use of other drugs.

The percentage of 12th graders reporting ever having used marijuana declined from 44% in 2004 to 41% in 2006, the lowest in the history of DADS. The use of many other drugs declined as well but still persists. For example, 20% of the sample reported the use of over-the-counter weight loss preparations, with proportionately more girls than boys doing so. The non-prescribed use of prescription opiates was reported by 15% of the sample, and 14% reported the non-prescribed use of tranquilizers. The use of hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD and psilocybin mushrooms was reported at 9% of 12th grade students. The non-prescribed use of prescription stimulants remained stable at 8 percent of the 12th grade cohort. The use of cocaine HCl and crack cocaine was 7% and 4%, respectively.

For all grade levels, except the 7th, alcohol was the most commonly used drug, followed by tobacco, and then marijuana. Among 7th graders, alcohol was followed by tobacco, inhalants, and then marijuana. Also, some variation in drug use prevalence exists among districts. School districts choose which grades between 7th and 12th they want to survey. Students respond anonymously and on a voluntary basis. In late winter and early spring 2006, 16,500 students from 15 districts in Montgomery, Greene, and Warren counties responded to DADS. The majority of the sample was white (82%), suburban (95%), and evenly split between boys and girls.

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Last edited on 12/15/2014.