Vaping Marijuana Hits new Highs among Teens

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) conducted a ‘Monitoring the Future’ survey according to which, the percentage of 12th graders who said they had vaped marijuana at least once in the past 30 days nearly doubled between 2018 and 2019. The percentage rose from 7.5 percent to 14 percent. It was recorded as the second-largest jump in the use of any drug ever found on the annual survey for the past 45 years.

Jack Stein, chief of staff at the NIDA said, “We are seeing a pretty remarkable increase in the use of vaping products to ingest marijuana”.

Vaping nicotine is also a popular practice among teenagers: 25 percent of 12th graders confirmed they vaped nicotine in the past 30 days, and 11.7 percent said they do it every day. Compared to only 3.6 percent in 2018, this year around 8 percent of 12th-grade students said that they vape because they are “hooked”.

Researchers are Concerned

Researchers studying the potential health risks of vaping are concerned with the increasing number. First, there was the spike of shocking lung injuries associated with vaping illegal THC-containing products over the summer. Then, a new study of over 30,000 people revealed that people who use e-cigarettes are at an increased risk of having a respiratory disease after only three years of using the product. However, the risk of diseases is still lower than that of vaping with traditional cigarettes. Only a small percentage of teenagers use traditional cigarettes, and smoking rates continue to go down.

Overall, marijuana consumption has remained fairly constant over the past few years, even though daily use and marijuana vaping has increased. Richard Miech, co-investigator of the survey says there could be two reasons for the above-mentioned scenarios:

  1. It could be that instead of smoking marijuana, teens are vaping marijuana.
  2. It could be that the teens who are smoking marijuana are also vaping it.

“Because daily use is increasing, it’s maybe more consistent with the second. They’re not just substituting vaping for smoking,” he said.

What about other Substances?

The Monitoring the Future survey disclosed that teens use of other drugs, like prescription opioids and alcohol, continues to reduce.

The survey found that the abuse of Oxycontin and Vicodin among 12th graders is at its least since 2002. “In general, the numbers have never actually been super high. But they have been declining, which is important,” Stein says. The use of Adderall also continues to fall among 10th and 12th graders. Although 2.5 percent of eighth-graders said they used Adderall in 2019, as compared to 1.3 percent in 2014.

Alcohol consumption has also been decreasing over the past five years. This year 52.1 percent of 12th graders were reported using alcohol as compared to 60 percent in 2014.

“It’s a consistent trend. Alcohol is really the most widely used drug,” Stein says. “It’s hard to say the reason, but we’re hoping the very aggressive prevention efforts are helping.”


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