News stories often depict high school and college students as out of control substance abusers. There seems to be a new story each week about binge drinking or drug use but these may be giving a distorted image of todays young people.
A new study from the US shows that young people are consuming no more alcohol or drugs than previous generations. In a US National Survey on Drug Use and Health, just under 40% of people 18 to 25 had binged on alcohol in the past month. That is a decrease of around 2% from 2003 and similar to drinking patterns of young people since the 1980s.
Perhaps more interesting is the fact that 53% of people between 18 and 20 years old had drunk no alcohol at all in the past month while only 31% admitted to binge drinking within the past 30 days.
Illegal drug use is also on the decline among young people. 15% of 24 year-olds have admitted to trying cocaine compared to 29% of 50 to 54 year-olds. Most people who use drugs will have tried them by their late teens or early 20s so this is a fairly accurate comparison.
Young people are even resisting prescription drug abuse which, according to reports, been on the rise lately. Prescription misuse by people of college age fell 14% from 2010 to 2011. Also, the number of people over 12 who misuse prescription pain medication has remained stable at around 2% since 2002.
This is good news for health officials and those how work in the addiction industry but there is still more to be done. While young people appear to be no more inclined to drink or do drugs than their parents, there are still many substance abuse problems to be solved.