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New drug use survey shows more teens are vaping marijuana

Each year 45,000 teens from 400 schools across the country fill out a survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

TAMPA, Fla. — There's a new survey out on teen drug use, and while the results are encouraging in many ways, there's one big problem health officials need to tackle: vaping. 

Each year 45,000 teens from 400 schools across the country fill out a survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse

"With that information, we're able to guide public health policy and prevention interventions and really help keep America's students and teens healthy in the long run," said Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the NIDA.

Compton says the issue ringing the most alarm bells this year is vaping.  

"Vaping has been increasing in the last few years and marijuana vaping has nearly doubled in the last year. That was quite surprising that teens are using marijuana in these electronic devices," Compton said.

This presents several problems. First, because there's an increase in teens using marijuana because of the ease of vaping and relaxed attitudes due to various forms of legalization in many states. 

"We don't want teens using marijuana on a daily basis. It interferes with learning and memory. It can produce psychiatric problems in the long run and that's a very dangerous pattern."

Another big problem with vaping is nicotine. 

"We've made such good progress when it comes to reducing cigarette use by teens all across the country. We've essentially almost eliminated cigarette use by our youngest citizens, yet with this exposure to nicotine through vaping products we may be undoing and undermining all that public health improvement."

Some good news though, the abuse of alcohol, synthetic drugs, and even opioids is on a downward trend.  "So that's good news in that fewer teens will be going down that pathway to opioid misuse and addiction."

One thing parents still need to watch out for: prescriptions you may have in your home. Things like Xanax and Ambien. Teens will still get a hold of and abuse these items. 

So pay attention to where you keep your prescriptions and how you dispose of them, if there are any leftover. 

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