Report shows trends in attitudes towards substance use

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A new annual report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides trend data on people’s perceptions of the risk of illicit substances.  The report also examines how those perceptions may affect the likelihood of people using substances.

Below is what the report showed in terms of some key substances:

Marijuana
In 2014, only 34.3 percent of Americans aged 12 and older perceived great risk from smoking marijuana once or twice a week – down from 51.3 percent in 2002 when this question was first surveyed.  During this same period the percentage of Americans aged 12 and older using marijuana in the past month (current use) rose from 6.2 percent in 2002 to 8.4 percent in 2014.

However, the report found that levels of current marijuana use among adolescents age 12 to 17 have remained consistent with previous years, even though there has been a decrease in the perception of risk from marijuana use among these age groups.  This relationship between risk perceptions and marijuana use may reflect adolescents perceiving a difference between their personal choices regarding marijuana use and what they believe is safe for others.  For example, the majority of youth (79.2 percent) still disapproved of their friends smoking marijuana once a month.

The report also examined adolescent’s perceptions of their parents’ disapproval of substance use.  It found that 90 percent of adolescents perceived that their parents would disapprove of their use of marijuana — a decrease from 2002 (92 percent). Read more.

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