Once again, it’s that time of year that brings out the festive side in most of us. It’s a time for family and friends to make memories filled with peace and love. Even though we rush around trying to find that perfect gift for the person who already has two of everything, we all try to keep that holiday vibe going no matter what. That feeling can come to some of us naturally while others may think they “need” a little bit of help. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the trends of this year heading into Christmas. Don’t worry; I know what you’re thinking by now. As a friend once told me, “you’re harshing my mellow, man.” That’s not my intentions here at all. We’re just going to do a little reflecting back on the trends of this year that might accidentally bring a little more cheer to your holiday spirit…
In a recent national survey of middle and high school students conducted by the University of Michigan called “Monitoring the Future”, it claims that alcohol, cigarette, and illicit drugs use in 2014 is at their lowest points since the study began back in 1975. This study is done annually to keep track of the trends in substance abuse among students from 8th through to the 12th grades. This year, the survey covered over 40,000 students in about 400 secondary schools throughout the United States. The results from this year were significantly different than when it first started.
- Alcohol – Consumption of alcohol teens continued its long-term decline from 43 to 41% of students reporting use in the 12 months prior to the survey. The fractions of teens who reported “binge drinking” also fell again this year down to 12 percent, much better than the staggering 22 percent back in 1997. Researchers say this is an important improvement even though there is still roughly one in five 12th graders who report binge drinking at least once in the prior two weeks before reporting in this survey. If you want to test your teen for alcohol use, we offer a simple solution that could help you.
- Cigarettes – In 2014, the use of tobacco cigarettes has actually declined to 8 percent from 10 percent in 2013. That’s probably not a big deal to you, but to put that into perspective, 28% smoked tobacco cigarettes in 1998. This recent study shows for the first time, more students in the 8th through 12th grades are smoking e-cigarettes than tobacco cigarettes, continuing a decades-long decline. It’s unclear whether the researchers could decide if those who used e-cigarettes were likely to go on to use tobacco products, but considering this was the first year that the survey asked about the use of e-cigarettes, this is a good foundation for future trend research. If you want to test for Nicotine, Rapid Detect can help you with Cotinine (Nicotine) testing.
- Synthetic Marijuana (K2 “Spice”) – Of all the 12th graders who reported in the survey, use of synthetic marijuana (synthetic chemical components of marijuana sprayed onto shredded plant material that is then smoked) in the prior 12 months has fallen by nearly half. It was 11 percent when first included in the survey in 2011 and was down to 6 percent in 2014. K2 “Spice” is still an issue in other places outside of schools and testing should be considered if there is suspicion of use.
- “Bath Salts” – Another class of synthetic drugs sold over-the-counter also have declined in use, with the percentages of students in the surveyed grades now down to less than 1%. Ever since the rising concerns a few years ago, substantial efforts (including drug testing) had been made to ban them which has played a big part in having reduced their availability.
- Marijuana – Usage of this drug actually declined slightly in 2014 after five years of increasing among teens. In the prior 12 months, it declined from 26% down to 24% for the 8th – 12th grade students combined in this study. The survey also found that students in 8th and 10th grades reported that marijuana is less available than it once was. Another good point is that daily marijuana use among 12th graders is down, from 6.5% in 2013 to 5.8% in 2014. Still, there are students who may not be completely honest about their habits, so a little routine testing may be beneficial to maintain that balance of trust.
- Ecstasy (MDMA) – The new report shows a significant decline of use in the prior 12 months. Ecstasy has dropped from 2.8 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2014. Back during what is referred to the peak of its use in 2001, the rate had reached 6 percent. This is a drug that is commonly tested for.
- Salvia – Here’s another drug used for its hallucinogenic properties that have fallen to really low levels of use by 12th graders. In this report, trends continued to fall significantly to less than 2% in 2014 from 5.7% in 2009. Even using hallucinogens other than LSD (including the consumption of hallucinogenic mushrooms) is also continuing a longer-term decline. Availability of these drugs has been falling since 2001 and continued to decline in 2014.
- Prescription drugs – This includes the variety use of narcotics, sedatives, tranquilizers, and amphetamines without prescriptions. Since the 1990s, this was considered a public health concern because most of these drugs showed a substantial increase in use when many of the more common illegal drugs already were in a decline. That is until 2005 when 17% indicated misuse of these various drugs. What’s even better, according to the latest study, the shows a whopping decline between 2013 and 2014, from 16 percent to 14 percent, saying the 12th graders used at least one of these prescription drugs in the recent 12 months. We can recommend a good test that will check for the most common drugs is available on our website.
- Narcotics (other than heroin) – Although these are among the most dangerous of all prescription drugs out there, the good news is that they have been declining in use by 12th graders since 2009 when about 9% indicated using them without having the medical supervision required in the prior 12 months. Surprisingly, their use had continued to drop steadily, down from 7 percent in 2013 to 6 percent in 2014. According to the students in this survey, the main reason is that these drugs are increasingly difficult to obtain. Another good test that will check for a variety of drugs is available on our website.
- OxyContin – This drug has also declined over the last 12 months, including a significant drop in usage by 8th graders / junior high. The 2014 study reports that use in the past 12 months equasl out to 1% of 8th graders, 3% of 10th graders, and 3.3% of 12th graders. This is a total of nearly 7.5 percent of students 8th through 12th grades. Keep in mind that students often do not realize the bad effects or the risk of addiction that OxyContin can have. It’s important to understand the differences between this drug and Oxycodone. The differences are between the two relates to the onset of action. Oxycontin is a time released drug that acts over a period of time while Oxycontin continues acting for at least 12 hours. The amount that an abuser might take of oxycodone may have severe effects on the user, especially if it’s their first time. The danger increases if the addict snorts it. Testing could save the lives of those you suspect may be users.
- Cough and cold medicines – Lozenges, capsules, tablets, and cough syrups, in a variety of prescription medications and over-the-counter cough and cold remedies usually contain an ingredient called Dextromethorphan (a synthetic analog of codeine and d-isomer of 3-methoxy-N-methymorphinan). It is dangerous to consume these drugs in large quantities. Fortunately, abuse of these drugs has been falling among teens since 2006 and declined significantly again in 2014, with annual prevalence declining from 4.0 percent to 3.2 percent among the students surveyed.
In sum, this latest survey is full of good news. Should these trends continue, I can tell you as a parent, a lot of us will be relieved a little more every year as time marches on. I’m not saying that my children or yours will ever do drugs in school; I’m just saying that we will have less of a struggle when we encourage our children to just say no to drugs and alcohol. We, at Rapid Detect, INC, believe strongly that our children are the future we can depend on. If we don’t show them now that drugs are bad, not only do we let our children down, all of our futures could be a dark road. You can call to speak with one of our friendly knowledgeable sales consultants if you have any questions about the products we offer mentioned above at (800) 404-0020 weekdays from 8 am to 4 pm CDT or send an email to [email protected] anytime.