We must have missed the period when drinking and doing drugs became passé among high school kids, but now teens have decided substance abuse is in again. After a decade of decline, drug and alcohol abuse has been on the rise for the past three years, according to a report issued today by the Partnership at Drugfree.org (The Partnership for a Drug-Free America has recently changed its name, but we'll always know them as the folks that brought us the "this is your brain on drugs" commercials.)
A survey of 2,500 high school students found that 45% don't see a "great risk" in heavy drinking, though 31% disapprove of other teens getting drunk. 68% have had at least one drink, at an average age of 14. As for drug use, between 2008 and 2010 the number of teens who said they've used marijuana in the past year rose from 32% to 39%. During the same time period, the number of kids who used ecstasy increased from 6% to 10%.
Sean Clarkin, Partnership at Drugfree.org's director of strategy, put the blame on normalization of drug use in social media, budget cuts to substance abuse prevention programs, and "the proliferation and discussion of medical marijuana." Medical marijuana! So kids are being turned onto pot by tales of cancer patients using it to ease their pain and not endless cable reruns of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle?
He also added that stress caused by families' economic problems could be a factor, and frankly, it's refreshing that no one blamed the entertainment industry in this report. Though, Steve Pasierb, the partnership's president, did say, "It's not like this generation of kids thinks they're more bulletproof than others, but they really don't see any harm in that heavy drinking." He may not have mentioned Jersey Shore by name, but considering that binge drinking is cast members' primary activity, it's basically a shout out.
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