A new study released t0day reveals mixed results when discussing teen drinking, smoking, and drug use.

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American teens had the second lowest rate of drinking and smoking tobacco than teens in 36 other countries, but they are more likely to use illicit drugs.

The survey reached 100,000 teenagers in countries across Europe, including Germany and France. Those students questioned were 15 and 16 years old and their habits were then measured by researchers against the data collected in the most recent “monitoring the future” survey.

That study, conducted by the University of Michigan, focuses on sophomore students.

27 percent of American students said that they drank alcohol during the 30 days prior to the survey. Only Iceland was lower at 17 percent, and the average rate in the 36 European countries was 57 percent, double the rate in the U.S.

In those same 30 says, 12 percent of American teens say they smoked cigarettes. Only Iceland had a lower rate at 10 percent.

For all European countries the average proportion smoking was 28 percent, again more than double the rate in the U.S.

But the news takes a downward turn when it comes to illicit drugs.

At 18 percent, the U.S. ranks third of 37 countries on the proportion of students using marijuana or hashish in the prior 30 days. Only France and Monaco had higher rates at 24 percent and 21 percent, respectively. The average across all the European countries was 7 percent, or less than half the rate in the U.S.

The U.S. ranks first in the proportion of students using any illicit drug other than marijuana in their lifetime (16 percent compared to an average of 6 percent in Europe) and using hallucinogens like LSD in their lifetime (6 percent vs. 2 percent in Europe).

Researchers also discovered that despite a sharp drop in ecstasy use, American students ranked first in reporting ecstasy use in their lifetime (7 percent vs. 3 percent in Europe). Ecstasy was seen as more available in the U.S. than in any other country.

Those numbers seem a little baffling, as Europe has seen a rash of ecstasy related deaths and illnesses in the last several months.

Investigators discovered American students reported the highest proportional lifetime use of amphetamines (9 percent), a rate that is three times the average in Europe (3 percent).

For some drugs, however, the lifetime prevalence rate in the U.S. was just about the average for the European countries, including inhalants (10 percent), cocaine (3 percent), crack (2 percent), heroin (1 percent) and anabolic steroids (1 percent).

This is the time for parents to take a closer look at their teens’ habits.   Early drug use can often lead to early addiction.  Early treatment can typically result in a better response to treatment.

 

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