Health

A survey produced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found a rare bit of good news about the opioid crisis: fewer teenagers reported using opioids outside of medical purposes.

The Monitoring the Future Survey 2017 results show a continued trend in decreased misuse of opioids by teens that dates to the early 2000s.

Public health officials say that’s encouraging news amidst an opioid epidemic and climbing rates of overdose and addiction among adults.

“There’s been concern that teenagers would also be starting to take these drugs and suffer the consequences,” NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow said. “But, in fact, we are observing some of the lowest rates of opioid use that we have been monitoring through the survey. So that’s very good news.”

A good indicator of the continued decrease is in the reported misuse of Vicodin.

In 2002 nearly 10 percent of 12th graders surveyed reported misuse of the opioid painkiller within the previous year. In the latest survey that had dropped to just two percent.

The reason for the continued decrease is unclear. But surveyed teens reported that illicit opioids have become more difficult to obtain. Health officials also believe evidence-based educational programs are having an effect.

Not all of the news from the survey was positive.

Overall reported marijuana consumption has increased along with vaping of nicotine, marijuana and flavored liquids.

“These are behaviors that we have to look at very carefully,” Volkow said.

The Monitoring the Future survey was conducted this year by the University of Michigan with support from the NIDA. The survey has monitored teen drug use since 1975. Nearly 44,000 students from 360 public and private schools participated in the most recent survey.

Based at WOUB in Athens, OH, Aaron Payne covers economic transition and the addiction crisis.