Over the last four decades, more American teenagers have decided to say no to drugs and alcohol, a new report shows.
“There has been a steady increase in the proportion of students graduating high school who report never having tried alcohol, marijuana, tobacco or any other drugs,” said study author Dr. Sharon Levy. She directs the adolescent substance use and addiction program at Boston Children’s Hospital.
For example, while about 5 percent of high school seniors had embraced abstinence in 1976, that figure had risen to 25 percent in 2014, according to the most recent poll of nearly 12,000 students.
Surveys conducted among 8th and 10th graders between 1991 and 2014 unearthed a similar trend, with abstinence jumping from roughly 25 percent to almost 60 percent among the former, and from 10 percent to more than 40 percent among the latter.
There was also a jump in total abstinence during the month leading up to each survey, rising from just over 20 percent among high school seniors in 1976 to more than 50 percent by 2014. Among 8th graders, that jump was from about 65 to about 85 percent, while among 10th graders month-long abstinence rose from about 50 to roughly 65 percent, the findings showed.
Levy said the downward trends didn’t catch her off-guard, even if “the findings may surprise people because we constantly hear bad news about drug use and the opioid epidemic.”
She explained that both drinking and smoking — the number one and number three most common substance use habits — have been sliding in popularity across the board for a while now, even though pot use has held steady.