How Rates of Drug Use in American Teens Have Changed

Drug abuse rates have always been a concern for Americans. More specifically, they have been concerned with teen drug use rates. Our culture and social norms have changed from generation to generation and what causes these changes is still mostly up for debate. Since 2008, drug use in teens has gone up and down. But in general, teens have been using less hard drugs, even though marijuana use has gone up. This article is going to take a look at these trends and the possible causes behind them.

How Rates of Drug Use in American Teens have Changed

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It is estimated that 12.5% of teens used marijuana in 2008. In 2014, that number increased to 14.4%. This change is not significant, but many people are asking what causes these drug use rates to go up and down. Surely peer pressure plays a role in drug use since teens are more sensitive to social pressure. They have a strong desire to fit it and those who might not have considered using marijuana are more inclined to try it if their friends doing it.
Internet access is more widely available today than it was in 2008 and now, teens can do their own research right from their smartphones. It is possible that easy access to information has played a role in the small spike in marijuana use. No matter how much we want to deny it, there are not many long-term adverse effects associated with marijuana use.

Teen Drinking
Teen alcohol use has been steadily declining and while we can’t give a definitive answer to why this is, it could be linked to more public awareness. In recent years, anti-drinking and driving campaigns have become more prevalent, and wrecked cars have been placed in front of schools and on the side of the road as silent, but effective reminders of the repercussions that can come from it. They serve as a brutal reminder of what could happen if a teen gets behind the wheel after drinking.

The decline in teen drinking could also be due to increased DWI enforcement. A DWI charge is a serious conviction, and many teens are not able to afford the financial and social consequences of such. In many states like Texas, attorneys can even specialize in these types of defense cases. You can find a possession of an illegal substance lawyer in Austin Texas along with DWI and car accident attorneys. Enforcement and laws have certainly had their share in deterring teens from drug use.

Cocaine use by teens has declined since 2008. This could be a social trend or, it could be the result of more readily available information. Cocaine has a lot of long-term negative effects and is highly addictive.

Cocaine targets the receptors in the brain that are responsible for happiness and pleasure and make people become dependent on the drug for overall happiness. It bombards these receptors to create feelings of intense joy, but can also damage the receptors in the process. When these receptors are damaged, normal levels of happiness can only be achieved with cocaine. This knowledge is more accessible now than ever before and it is possible that has directly linked to reduced teen cocaine use. 

Heroin use in teens started to decline in 2011, which is fortunate. Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs out there, and many who start are hooked for life. Heroin alters the chemistry of the brain and the first use feels like pure bliss. But most never achieve that same feeling again. A teen’s tolerance to the drug is built up with each use. As a result, more of the drug is required to create the high. Very few people ever escape this addiction.

No one would want that lifestyle, and not many people would ever take their first hit if they knew where it would lead. Again, this comes back to education and the availability of information.
The main change in drug use in teens has been a decline in hard drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. Marijuana use dropped for a while, but is starting to increase again. The cause seems to come from more readily accessible information. There are no apparent long-term effects associated with marijuana use. But the profoundly negative effects of drugs like cocaine and heroin are clear and seem to deter many teens.

The issue of drug use is an issue of public safety. It is important to keep that in mind, and that the answer to this problem is not going to be found with the use of force or threats. We want to protect the future of these teens and education and compassion are obviously a lot more successful.