Teen MDMA Use Rebounds
December 17, 2007
A *press release from the Monitoring the Future reports unchanged (cocaine, heroin, OxyContin) or slightly decreased (marijuana, amphetamines including Ritalin and methamphetamine) 12-month incidence for many drugs of abuse in the critical 8th, 10th and 12th grade samples. The use of MDMA, however, is a different story:
The only drug showing signs of an increase in use is MDMA (ecstasy). Ecstasy use among teens plummeted in the early 2000s, as concern about the consequences of use grew. However, the proportion of students seeing great risk in using this drug has been in decline for the past two or three years at all three grade levels, and use has begun to increase, at least in the upper grades.
Among 10th graders, annual prevalence has risen from a recent low of 2.4 percent in 2004 to 3.5 percent in 2007, while in 12th grade it has risen from a recent low of 3 percent in 2005 to 4.5 percent in 2007. While none of the one-year increases were statistically significant for 2007, a clear pattern of gradually rising use is discernable in the upper grades; and their cumulative increases over the past couple of years are statistically significant.
Why would this be the case in the context of an across-the-board reduction in drug using? Well for starters, the risk perception is important. MtF handwaves about the change in perception of risk as follows:
Students’ disapproval of using ecstasy has also been slipping in recent years, particularly among 8th graders. The fact that 8th graders are showing the sharpest erosion in perceived risk and disapproval suggests that there may be what the investigators call a “generational forgetting” of the hazards of this drug as new cohorts of students enter adolescence and replace those who knew more about the consequences of use.
Or, rather than “forgetting”, we have “new learning”. I mean, c’mon. All the popular media coverage in recent years has been about the clinical trials or how Ecstasy was done down by the man. Any coverage of the “risk” science has pretty much been the Ricaurte debacle, conclusion to which is generally “can’t trust those dang scientists!”. Sigh. Research links here and a nice repository of papers here for those that want to do some reading up.
- Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G. & Schulenberg, J. E. (December 11, 2007). “Overall, illicit drug use by American teens continues gradual decline in 2007.” University of Michigan News Service: Ann Arbor, MI. [Online]. Available: http://www.monitoringthefuture.org; accessed 12/17/07.