*The following is excerpted from an online article posted by HealthDay.
There may be a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, with U.S. health officials reporting an “unprecedented” decline in teens’ use of alcohol, marijuana, other illegal drugs, and vaping.
“We have never seen such dramatic decreases in drug use among teens in just a one-year period,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“These data are unprecedented and highlight one unexpected potential consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused seismic shifts in the day-to-day lives of adolescents,” she added in an institute news release.
From 2020 to 2021 — the first year of the pandemic — rates of past-year alcohol use fell from about 55% to around 47% among 12th graders, and from nearly 41% to around 29% among 10th graders. Eighth-grade drinking dipped from about 21% to just over 17%, according to the survey results.
Rates of past-year marijuana use also decreased, falling from around 11% to about 7% among 8th graders, and from 28% to 17% among 10th graders. Pot use dropped from around 35% to less than 31% among 12th graders, the findings showed.
Vaping’s popularity rates also fell after COVID-19’s emergence. Rates of past-year nicotine vaping fell from nearly 17% to 12% among 8th graders, from about 31% to less than 20% among 10th graders, and from roughly 35% to about 27% among 12th graders.
The 2021 decrease in vaping for both marijuana and tobacco was especially welcome, as it follows sharp increases in use between 2017 and 2019.
Other significant declines in use were also reported across a wide range of drugs, including cocaine, hallucinogens, and nonmedical use of amphetamines, tranquilizers, and prescription opioids.
The findings are from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey. It is given annually to students in grades 8, 10, and 12.