Teen Drug Trends Survey: K2 Losing Popularity but Illicit Drug Use on the Upswing

k2, spice, synthetic drugsGateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment points to a new study that shows synthetic marijuana (marketed as K-2, Spice, etc.), which has been of increasing concern because of its adverse effects and high rates of use, is losing its appeal with teens. Conversely, teen drug trends indicate overall illicit drug use is trending upward—which is being driven by teens’ drug of choice: marijuana.

The Good News

The second-most popular illicit drug used in 2012 among 10th and 12th graders (after marijuana) is dropping in popularity today. In 2013, there was a highly statistically significant fall in use of K2 and Spice among high school seniors, and a significant decrease for three combined grades. According to the 2013 Monitoring the Future study:

  • Among 12th graders: 11.3 percent used K2 in 2012, which dropped to 7.9 percent in 2013.
  • Among 10th graders: 8.8 percent used K2 in 2012, which decreased to 7.4 percent in 2013.
  • Among 8th graders: 4.4 percent used K2 in 2012, which declined to 4.0 percent in 2013.

“This encouraging news regarding synthetic marijuana usage reflects a substantial win for the future health and well-being of American teens and families. It also validates how concerted efforts from local, state and national governments in cooperation with the private sector can positively affect public safety in a relatively short period of time,” says Michael Darcy, President & CEO, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment.

Likewise, research shows a sharply increasing proportion of teens in all three grades see great risk in using so-called “bath salts,” often described as “fake cocaine.” In a single year, the percent indicating that occasional use of bath salts carries great risk of harm has risen by 13, 17 and 25 percentage points in grades 8, 10 and 12, respectively.

teen drug trends, teen drug use, marijuanaThe Bad News

The proportions of students indicating any use of an illicit drug in the prior 12 months are:

  • Among 8th graders: 15 percent in 2013 compared to 13.5 percent in 2012.
  • Among 10th graders: 32 percent in 2013 compared to 30.4 percent in 2012.
  • Among 12th graders: 40 percent in 2013 compared to 39.4 percent in 2012.

These are the latest findings from the University of Michigan’s annual study funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Since 1991, the Monitoring the Future study has annually surveyed 40,000 to 50,000 U.S. secondary school students to help shed a light on teen alcohol and drug use.

For teens who struggle with substance abuse issues, Gateway Foundation offers specialized alcohol and drug treatment programs for teens while instilling healthy coping skills to assist teens with the challenging transition into adulthood. To learn more about Gateway’s free, confidential consultation, call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

1 in 9 High School Seniors Recently Smoked Synthetic Marijuana

synthetic marijuanaParents with kids in high school need to know, marijuana and synthetic marijuana like K2 and Spice are the most prevalent illicit drugs used by 12th graders, according to data from the most recent national Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey. Slightly more than one-third (36.4%) of high school seniors reported using marijuana in the past year, including 11.3% who reported using synthetic marijuana, compared with less than 8% for all other illicit drugs, such as: cocaine, heroin and crystal meth.

The MTF survey also found that approximately one-fourth (24%) of 12th graders perceive a great risk for harm in trying synthetic marijuana once or twice, and one-third (33%) think there is a great risk for harm in using the drug occasionally, compared to 15% and 21%, respectively, for marijuana. Previous research on high school students has shown that students’ perceived risk is related to their likelihood of using a drug.

adolescent drug and alcohol abuse

Download Gateway Foundation’s Substance Abuse Prevention Guide for Parents

About Monitoring the Future

Monitoring the Future is an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes and values of American secondary school students, college students and young adults. Each year, a total of approximately 50,000 8th, 10th and 12th grade students are surveyed (12th graders since 1975, and 8th and 10th graders since 1991). The Monitoring the Future Study has been funded under a series of research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. MTF is conducted at the Survey Research Center in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

Talk. They Listen.

Research verifies that when parents talk to their kids about risks associated with alcohol and drug abuse, they are less likely to engage in drug use. Gateway Foundation offers parents free resources to keep them informed about teen drug trends and helpful guidance about talking to teens regarding substance abuse. For more information, please visit RecoverGateway.org.

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