Adolescent Substance Use Trends
Patterns and trends of substance use among adolescents fluctuates from generation to generation. There are many factors related to the increased risk for substance experimentation. For example, generational substance use, poor parental monitoring, and low academic performance contribute to elevated risk for substance use (Allison, et al., 1999). Substances that have remained on the forefront for adolescent use and abuse include alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana (Hussey, Drinkard, Flannery).
Summary of Research
Adolescent substance use has many facets including illicit drug use and alcohol and tobacco use. The most common illicit drug used by adolescents is marijuana (Murphey, Barry, Vaughn, Guzman & Terzian, 2013). Marijuana use is steadily increasing among adolescents while methamphetamines are on the decline among youth (Johnston, O'Malley, Bachman & Schulenberg, 2006). Substance use among adolescents increases significantly if substance use is exhibited in the home (Allison, et al., 1999). On the contrary, if members of the household do not use, adolescents are less likely to experiment with cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs (Allison, et al., 1999).
Additionally, research consistently confirms the connection between youth substance use and familial substance use (Walden, Iacono & McGue, 2007). For example, substance use and abuse often intertwined in families. Furthermore, adolescents look to their parents as important role models for alcohol use and the use of illicit drugs other than marijuana (Allison, et al., 1999). Parents set an example for their impressionable adolescent (Murphey, et al., 2013). Youth who have a close non-authoritarian relationship with their parents are less likely to be involved with substance use and are less likely to associate with peers who are using drugs and alcohol (Allison, et al., 1999).
On one hand, according to Allison et al., maternal substance use has a loftier influence for the risk of adolescent drug experimentation (1999). On the other hand, Waldon, Iacono, and McGue find evidence supporting the paternal influence for substance use is greater especially regarding alcohol (2007). Overall, research suggests genetics influence the substance use by adolescents (Allison, et al., 1999; Walden, et al., 2007; Murphey, et al., 2013).
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug among adolescents; however, there is a wide range of illicit drugs and new or rediscovered drugs that pop up frequently among youth substance use (Murphey, et al., 2013). Drugs that are popular among teens, beyond alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, and have reported use within the last thirty days by high school seniors are: “amphetamines, inhalants, and hallucinogens (including ecstasy and LSD)” (Murphey, et al., 2013). Fourteen percent of youth surveyed in 8th grade, 10th grade, and 12th grade reported using marijuana within the last thirty days (Murphey, et al., 2013).