Curious Parents

Teen Drug Use Has Dropped Dramatically In The Last 10 Years. Kids These Days!

If you watch coming-of-age films featuring crazy, drug-fueled high school parties or even follow young celebrities on social media, you might worry about the state of our teenagers. How do today's teens stand a chance? Well, surveys indicate that illegal drug use by teens has in fact plummeted in the last 10–20 years. That's nothing to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ at.

A Promising Trend

According to the annual survey Monitoring The Future, rates of teen drug, alcohol, and tobacco use in 2016 were at the lowest seen since the 1990s. The news was even better for the youngest demographic surveyed: illegal drug use by eighth graders was at its lowest in the survey's more than 40-year history.

"We are seeing some of the lowest rates of drug use we've ever encountered in our survey, and that is for cocaine, amphetamines, heroin, inhalants." Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told CNN. She said that rates for alcohol and nicotine use were the "lowest ever seen," while "in the case of nicotine, reductions have been very dramatic: fourfold decreases over a period of 10 or 15 years." Way to go, Generation Z!

Related: In America, Prescription Drugs Have Become More Dangerous Than Illegal Ones

Kale > Drugs

So what's going on? According to Chloe Combi's 2015 book, Generation Z: Their Voices, Their Lives, it's no longer uncool to say no to drugs. The writer and former teacher interviewed 2,000 teens about sex, family, school, crime, and health, and explored how those issues impacted their use of drugs. As Combi explains to VICE, "The biggest influence on kids are other kids." And these days, teens don't want to re-live their parents' problematic drinking and drug habits. Instead of adopting the "living for the weekend" mentality of yesteryear, teens are embracing a healthy lifestyle. Combi notes that "two decades of hardcore anti-drugs, anti-smoking and anti-alcohol education" have also done their job.

Her interview unveiled another unexpected deterrent: smartphones. Our devices promote "isolated socializing," giving teens less of a reason to party like it's 1999. Volkow agrees, telling CNN that more social media could be leading teens to socialize face-to-face less, thereby leading to less peer pressure. Smart phones also promote a new level of vanity. Combi elaborates to VICE: "We live in a society that is becoming more vain and image conscious. It's like, don't take drugs, eat kale." Also? When a teen gets wasted, their friends are ready with Snapchat to document each indiscretion.

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Written by Curiosity Staff May 12, 2017

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