Indiana Survey Shows Current Trends In Teen Substance Abuse
For nearly a quarter century now the state of Indiana has been conducting a youth substance use survey. The data is used to direct prevention and intervention strategies and to gauge how well those efforts are working. The most recent annual survey of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, the Indiana Youth Survey 2013, reflects current trends in teen behaviors and attitudes and shows that some interventions are proving successful.
The survey questioned 117,554 teens from private and public schools attending grades six through senior in high school. The survey is conducted in conjunction with the Indiana Prevention Resource Center who makes resources available to schools and communities aimed at curbing teen substance abuse.
Use of marijuana by teens (12 to 17 years) hit an all-time high in the state between 2008 and 2011. The good news is that the most recent survey shows that marijuana use is now falling among teens there. However, while marijuana use is dropping, its use is still seen as too high, and synthetic marijuana use is an increasing concern.
Synthetic Marijuana Use Dangerously Increasing
Synthetic marijuana is just what it sounds like — a man-made substance that mimics marijuana. It is made by drying plant material and then spraying it with chemicals which mirror the effects of marijuana and THC. The plant material is then chopped and marketed in stores as incense, but kids roll it and smoke it just like natural marijuana. In fact, the survey shows that teens are not substituting fake marijuana for real marijuana but are using the two drugs simultaneously.
This year’s survey included new questions related to risk factors and protective factors that influence teen drug use. Questions pertaining to the health of relationships and attitudes reveal the degree of risk or protection teens are experiencing. The attitudes of parents and friends about drug use influences teens greatly, as do how well relationships at home, school and among peers are faring.
Prescription Drug Abuse
The survey found that prescription drug abuse increases with age. Less than two percent of sixth graders reported abusing prescription drugs, but more than 14 percent of seniors admitted using. The survey was specific in asking teens if they bought prescription drugs from friends or obtained them from family members. Since a major protective factor against prescription drug abuse is a teen’s perception of danger, the survey highlights the need for more information and better education strategies letting kids know just how dangerous misuse of prescription drugs can be.
Other news found in this year’s survey included success in lowering the numbers of teens who engage in gambling (online, lottery, slot machines etc.). Teen gambling rates have dropped in Indiana and the survey revealed that teen regret/remorse over gambling is increasing.