American Teens Consume More Illicit Drugs Than Those in Europe: Study
Substance abuse problem among American adolescents is a leading public health concern. According to a recent study, 10th graders in the United States have higher illicit drug use in comparison to their European counterparts. However, they also showed the lowest rates in drinking and smoking, the findings based on details of a 2015 survey of 15- and 16-year-olds across 35 European nations revealed.
This European study (European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs, or ESPAD) design was based on the U.S. Monitoring the Future study’s national survey (MTF) of 10th graders. The MTF is conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and is sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The two studies provided the premises for a comparison.
Some key takeaways from the comparison are:
· The U.S. students had pipped their European counters in the usage of an illicit drug in their lifetime. While it was only 18 percent among European students, the U.S. students were way above at 35 percent, the findings revealed. Only youths from the Czech Republic came higher than the U.S. at 37 percent.
· It is only recently that the European youth had exhibited the use of substances similar to what is prevalent in the U.S., including marijuana. The study also revealed a similar decline in cigarettes and alcohol use by teens.
· The lifetime use of cannabis was 31 percent among the U.S. respondents, which was a tie with France. Whereas among the European teens, it was only 16 percent. It was again the Czech Republic at 37 percent which topped the European respondents in lifetime cannabis use. When it came to cannabis use in last 30 days, the U.S. respondents recorded 15 percent and surpassed their European counterparts as they recorded 7 percent. France, however, exceeded both at 17 percent.
· The U.S. teens also had the highest lifetime use of amphetamines at 10 percent, whereas, the 35 ESPAD countries showed only 2 percent.
· Lifetime cocaine use by U.S. teens was at 3 percent against 2 percent among European youth. However, a few European countries did record higher rates of cocaine use. Bulgaria recorded 5 percent, while France and Poland stood at 4 percent.
· In case of lifetime heroin use, there was a tie for both the U.S. and the European countries with 1 percent.
· The U.S. teens averaged lower than the European teens in use of cigarettes and alcohol, but they topped the list in use of controlled substances.
While the U.S. has been battling the menace of illicit drug and the prescription drug epidemic, the situation is still not that bad in Europe. “The popular illicit drug use epidemic first emerged in the U.S. in the 1960s and eventually spread to be a pandemic affecting countries around the world,” said MTF principal researcher Lloyd Johnston.
“But it has not blossomed in Europe to the extent it did in this country,” he added. Social drinking and smoking is quite entrenched in the European culture and society, which explains the European teens beating their U.S. counterparts in these parameters, said Johnston.
Overcoming addiction to alcohol, tobacco and drugs
It is true that substance abuse can imperil the lives of those dependent on them. However, addiction is more of a disease than a crime. Hence, spurning an addict is not the solution, instead they should be encouraged to seek immediate treatment.
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