Report: Teens binge drinking less, vaping more

WASHINGTON — There are some hopeful signs in the National Institute of Drug Abuse‘s latest annual end-of-year report on teen substance abuse.

The survey of 44,892 eighth, 10th and 12th graders showed that alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking and the use of some drugs — including prescription opioids — is continuing to decline.

One bit of especially welcome news: binge drinking is way down, according to the survey results.

“Just five or 10 years ago, the rates were close to 10 percent in the reports by 12th graders — and now we are seeing that the numbers are half that,” says the institute’s deputy director, Dr. Wilson Compton.

But there were also worrisome trends in the 2015 version of the survey. While cigarette smoking declined, vaping continued to rise.

“Sixteen percent of the 12th graders and about nine-and-a-half percent of the eighth graders using e-cigarettes in any given month — that is a lot of teenagers potentially moving down that pathway into a lifelong tobacco habit,” Compton says.

He says what is especially concerning is the fact these products, unlike cigarettes, are not regulated.

“We don’t know the harms associated specifically with e-cigarettes,” Compton says, adding because there is no regulation, e-cigs are often sold with inaccurate labels and there is often no way to know what you are getting.

The nationwide survey of teens was conducted for the institute by researchers at the University of Michigan. The report is part of a series called Monitoring the Future.

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