(Bloomington, Ind.) – Indiana’s youth are not drinking as much as years past, but more of them are trying marijuana or smokeless tobacco according to a new study.
The Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University released its 21st Annual Survey of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use Wednesday. It questioned 168,801 students in public and private schools across the state.
The survey showed an increase in marijuana use among high schoolers. Nearly 20 percent of 12th graders in 2011 reported having used the drug at least once, up from 16.2 percent in 2008.
"Unfortunately we are seeing a continuation of an upward trend in both monthly and lifetime use of marijuana since 2008 in grade seven and grades nine to 12. It should be noted the rate of past month marijuana use among Indiana's eighth-grade youth is higher on average than the 2010 national prevalence rate reported in the Monitoring the Future survey," said Ruth Gassman, director of the IPRC, which is part of IU's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
"Among some grade levels, marijuana use did not increase significantly this year compared to last year, however, when the rates are examined over a four-year period (since 2008) the continuation of an upward trend is apparent."
The study shows that anti-tobacco smoking campaigns and efforts in recent years are making a difference among young people. Cigarette use continues to decline.
However, smokeless tobacco is becoming more common. Among 12th graders, 23.6 percent of them report trying smokeless tobacco at least once in their lifetime, up from 19.4 percent in 2007.
Reported monthly usage of smokeless tobacco was also up to 10.7 percent in 2011.
Gassman said the packaging of smokeless tobacco products is often very appealing to young consumers. These products are also advertised as being lower in chemicals and as tools for quitting smoking, she said.
Alcohol use by Indiana sixth- through 12th-graders has declined. In 1993, 37.8 percent of sixth graders and 85 percent of 12th graders reported drinking at least once. Those rates fell to 17.4 and 65.4 percent, respectively, in 2011.
The full report is available online at http://www.drugs.indiana.edu/data-survey_monograph.html.