We have long known that American Indian communities are particularly vulnerable to problems with substance use, which are tied in part to limited socioeconomic opportunity. But because national surveys fail to fully capture drug use patterns on or near reservations, the true scope of the problem has been elusive. A new study focusing on American Indian youth reveals alarming substance use patterns, including patterns of drug use beginning much earlier than is typical for other Americans.
An innovative National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) is being developed to monitor emerging trends that will help health experts respond quickly to potential outbreaks of illicit drugs such as heroin and to identify increased use of designer synthetic compounds.
The percentage of high-schoolers who see great risk from being regular marijuana users has dropped dramatically in the past 10 years, according to this year’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, which measures drug use and attitudes among the nation’s eighth-, 10th-, and 12th-graders.
Researchers found that 1 in 8 high school seniors had used a prescription opioid nonmedically, and 70 percent of these teens had compounded the attendant risk by co-ingesting an opioid with one or more other drugs. Nonmedical opioid use was significantly more prevalent among whites than among African Americans or Hispanics.