More Teens Taking Hits as Pot Use Climbs
WASHINGTON (AP) - More teens are smoking dope, with nearly 1 in 10 lighting up at least 20 or more times a month, according to a new survey of young people.
The report by The Partnership at Drugfree.org, being released Wednesday, also said abuse of prescription medicine may be easing a bit among young people in grades 9 through 12, but still remains high.
Partnership President Steve Pasierb says the mindset among parents is that it’s just a little weed or a few pills - no biggie.
"Parents are talking about cocaine and heroin, things that scare them," said Pasierb. "Parents are not talking about prescription drugs and marijuana. They can’t wink and nod. They need to be stressing the message that this behavior is unhealthy."
Use of harder drugs - cocaine and methamphetamine - has stabilized in recent years, the group’s survey showed. But past-month usage of marijuana grew from 19 percent in 2008 to 27 percent last year. Also alarming, says Pasierb, is the percentage of teens smoking pot 20 or more times a month. That rate went from 5 percent in 2008 to 9 percent last year, or about 1.5 million teens toking up that frequently.
Alex, 17, in Houston, says he started smoking pot at age 13, mostly on the weekends with friends.
"I just liked being high," said Alex, who is in a recovery program and asked that his last name not be used. "I always felt happier. Everything was funnier and my life was just brighter."
Alex then started abusing prescription drugs at 14. He blacked out one day at school, got arrested and ended up in rehab. After being sober for two years, Alex slipped and smoked pot last month. Still, he says he hopes to work toward a more sober life.