By Angie Argabrite, Monday, January 23, 2012, at 9:01 am.
As more U.S. states look to legitimize cannabis as a medical treatment, new studies indicate that for their part teens are using less tobacco and engaging in less underage drinking but smoking more pot. (Teens’ misuse of prescription medications like Vicodin is also stable or declining.) Daily use of marijuana among teens is 7 percent, the highest (pun intended) incidence since 1981; additionally, 11.4 percent of high school seniors report having used synthetic substances that mimic the effects of drugs like marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy. Adolescents’ drug preferences appear to be falling into step with those of adults around the globe, as at least one in 20 adults in 2009 used an illicit drug, with marijuana and hashish topping the list (the biggest concentration of tokers is in Australia and New Zealand). Africa, home to an estimated 200,000 heroin addicts, is seeing the problem trickle down to teenagers who attend prestigious schools in places like Kenya (though heroin use is actually highest in the Near and Middle East). The best preventive measure parents can take to keep kids off drugs: good old-fashioned communication. A recent study found that 16-year-olds whose parents instilled them with a sense of racial pride, encouraged their academic achievements and taught them to abide by family rules are 30 percent less likely to partake in drugs or alcohol. Another study even shows that teens who’ve learned to argue calmly with their parents are 40 percent more likely to just say “no” to drugs. Finally, an upside to teen rebellion.