Marijuana More Popular Among Teens than Cigarettes

According to the 2010 Monitoring the Future Survey, more teens are now smoking marijuana than cigarettes. This is especially concerning because while tobacco is extremely addictive and harmful to health, marijuana alters a person’s perceptions – leading to serious consequences for already impressionable young minds. And because the human brain does not fully develop until later in life, teens that use marijuana place themselves at greater risk of developing at a diminished capacity or ultimately becoming a physical dependent on the substance. However, marijuana is marketed as a “safe” alternative to other drugs and therefore education on the reality of this situation is critical to reversing this new trend.

The 2010 Monitoring the Future Survey provided questionnaires to 46,000 8th through 12th grade students. The questions were primarily about use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, with an emphasis on marijuana use. Questions focused on self-reported use of these substances within the last 30 days and within the last year. Responses were completely confidential and anonymous, although it’s likely that some students did not answer accurately. In any case, the results of the survey were surprising.

Overall, a greater percentage of high school seniors smoked marijuana than cigarettes. In fact, 20% of all the 10th through 12th grade respondents reported smoking marijuana during the previous 30 days. This new trend showed that marijuana had officially become more popular among teens than cigarettes, with just 19.2% of these students reporting tobacco use versus 21.4% reporting marijuana use. Perhaps more disturbing is the fact that one third of these teens used pot as often as 20 out of the last 30 days.

When asked about their first experiences with marijuana, the results were shocking. More than half of all the respondents admitted to using pot at age 14, and more than one quarter of all responding students reported smoking marijuana at age 12 or earlier.

The results of this survey were corroborated during 2010 by the number of teenaged patients who were admitted to drug treatment centers for marijuana dependence. 100,000 teens in the US alone received treatment for addiction to marijuana. These numbers are troublesome considering that teens who use marijuana regularly are more likely to form addiction to more dangerous drugs later in life- such as heroin, cocaine and meth. This is a real concern because the earlier an addiction is formed; the more likely it is that the person will have repeated bouts of active addiction throughout their lifetime.

Teens that use marijuana are in more than just physical danger: regular use of pot often leads to severe social, academic and even legal issues for teens that can be extraordinarily difficult to recover from. Additionally, teens that suffer from pre-existing conditions such as ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder or any other condition may experience a dramatic worsening of symptoms with even limited marijuana use. And because marijuana often causes a person to withdraw from others, reaching out for help can be a seemingly insurmountable undertaking.

If marijuana use is having a negative impact on your life and you need help, all you have to do is pick up the phone. We’re here 24 hours per day to provide you with a free, confidential consultation. Call us now.

About The Contributor

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers

The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More

Get Help for Drug Addiction during Coronavirus

Traveling for healthcare & essential services is permitted across the US. Addiction treatment is essential, and we are here for our patients in this difficult time.

Learn More