Each decade seems to usher in a whole new trend in drug abuse. What was popular forty years ago is being replaced by new synthetic drugs and potent prescription drugs. But, surprisingly, overall substance abuse rates were higher 40 years ago, then they dropped during the 1980s, and rose again in the 1990s. Surveys show that usage rates for many drugs are at the lowest levels since the surveys began in 1975, conducted by Monitoring the Future. This is due in part to the fact that we are being more honest with teens today about the effects of drugs and the dangers of following teen drug abuse trends just because it’s the newest thing to do for fun.
Decades of Getting High: Impact of Peer Pressure on Teens
Anyone who has had teenagers in their lives can attest that peer pressure has more of an impact on a teen than family relationships, cultural norms, or education programs. Teens usually worry more about what their friends think and whether they fit in with the crowd than about what their parents think. Many of these teens will be led to drug use and abuse by their friends, just as they have for decades.
Researchers believe that misinformation and false messages were spread about drugs during the 1960s and this led to higher rates of drug use in the 1970s. Marijuana and heroin were popular and some Harvard professors promoted LSD use. Teachers even told teens that marijuana use would cause acne, sterility, and blindness. They thought this fear tactic would keep the kids away from marijuana use, but teenagers figured out the manipulation and felt even more comfortable using the drug.
Parents, educators, and society as a whole have learned from past mistakes about teen drug abuse trends and are now being honest with teens about drug dangers. With proper education about the consequences of drug abuse, teens can make informed choices.
Teen Drug Abuse Trends Yesterday and Today
It’s hard to imagine, but back in the 70s, more teens reported drug and alcohol use than today’s teens. In 1975, these were the most commonly abused drugs by high school seniors:
- 47.3% used marijuana
- 22.3% used amphetamines
- 18.2% used sedatives (barbiturates)
- 17% used tranquilizers (Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin)
- 11.3% used LSD
- 9.0% used cocaine
Compare those numbers to the most commonly used drugs by high school seniors in 2016:
- 44.5% used marijuana
- 10.0% used amphetamines
- 7.8% used narcotics other than heroin
- 7.6% used tranquilizers
- 6.7% used hallucinogens
- 5.2% used sedatives
Marijuana continues to remain at the top and opiates and inhalants have made significant gains recently. It’s interesting to note that the amphetamines used in 1975 were “uppers”, but in 2016, the amphetamines that gained popularity were crystal meth which is far more dangerous.
How to Help Teens Who are Abusing Drugs
When young people abuse drugs, their brain is more susceptible to long-term damage. This happens because their brain is still developing. The effects of the chemical in drugs can interrupt the natural process and leave them with impaired cognitive abilities. If you suspect your teen is using drugs, get professional treatment right away to avoid permanent harm.
If you would like more information about teen drug use trends, contact us today at our toll-free number. Also, if you are seeking treatment for your loved one, give us a call right away. We are here to help.