Dr. Nora Volkow Discusses the 2018 MTF Results

Video length: 3:40


Dr. Nora Volkow speaking: What is very exciting about this year's findings on the Monitoring the Future is that basically all of the indicators except for one are going in the right direction.

So, we continue to see very low rates of use of illicit and licit substances and in fact from some of these drugs we have the lowest recorded numbers that we've had since the inception of the survey.

The issue that's worrisome though at the same time is that we're seeing these improvements in legal and illegal substances is that we're seeing a very significant and fast increase in the use of vaping by teenagers and the numbers are growing very rapidly.

So, vaping can include anything from just flavors to using these vaping devices to administer nicotine, or to administer THC.

And you see it actually at very high rates for 8th, 10th and 12th graders but nicotine is quite a potent substance and so from research it serves to prime your brain towards the rewarding effects of other drugs and those then concern that by vaping we're now having many more kids that otherwise would have never been exposed to nicotine now are getting exposed to it and the extent to which these could put them at higher risk of addiction later on in life.

So, we are seeing a dramatic decrease in the use of prescription opioids.

We're also seeing decreases in heroin and we see the rate of heroin use among the lowest we have ever seen since we started to record it.

So, it's at 0.4% for 12 graders.

All of these indicators show us that the use of opioids among teenagers it appears to be under control.

The concern is that when you continue to then survey the prevalence, as these teenagers going to young adulthood in that transition from adolescence to young adulthood, we see a big jump and that is the period between age 18 to 26 where you see the highest rates of opioid use.

Whether it's prescription opioids or heroin or synthetics.

So, something happens in that transition that puts the individuals in very high risks.

In our perspective then is what is it that we can do during that stage of adolescence interventions to build them up the resilience so that they when they transition from adolescence into young adulthood, they will be basically protected and more less likely to get into misusing opioids?

The other very good news has to do with alcohol and this, of course, is important because the morbidity and mortality associated with alcohol use among teenagers is quite significant and is one of the first causes of mortality in the in these age groups.

What we are seeing is well that decreases in the rate of alcohol has not been as dramatic as for tobacco, they have been continuously improving so that we again see decreases ...particularly significant even in between 2017 and 2018 for many of the indicators in 12th graders and that relates to the frequency of binging, or excessive alcohol use.