Teen drug and alcohol use continues to fall, new federal data show: "Teen marijuana use, a contentious topic now that several states have legalized marijuana sales, is also on the decline."

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Drug and alcohol use among America's teens continues to trend downward, according to new numbers released today by the Department of Health and Human Services. From 2002 to 2013, the average American teenager's odds of regular (at least monthly) tobacco use nearly halved. Recreational use of prescription painkillers saw a similar decline.
The rate of regular alcohol use among teens aged 12 to 17 declined from from 17.6 percent to 11.6 percent over the same period. Teen marijuana use, a contentious topic now that several states have legalized marijuana sales, is also on the decline.
These findings come from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an annual, nationally-representative survey of roughly 70,000 Americans aged 12 and older. Because of its large sample size the survey is considered an authoritative account of the nature and scope of drug, alcohol and tobacco use in the United States.
"We're seeing really exciting numbers in terms of the 12 to 17 year-olds across the country," according to Peter Delany, the director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "We see illicit drug use down significantly from 2009. We see marijuana starting to trend downward. Hallucinogens and inhalants are also down slightly."
"The 2013 NSDUH results suggest that the Administration’s efforts to reduce drug and alcohol use among young people is working," the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) said in a press release. 
Among all Americans, the survey finds that drug use trends are essentially flat. The percentage of those aged 12+ using any illicit drug in the past month is up slightly year-over-year, from 9.2 percent in 2012 to 9.4 percent in 2013. These numbers are driven primarily by a similar uptick in marijuana use over the same period.
The numbers suggest that ONDCP efforts to curb some of the most dangerous drug behavior, like opioid abuse, may be bearing fruit. "We’re especially heartened by the decrease in new initiates [that is, first-time use] of prescription drug misuse, which aligns with our prevention efforts," said ONDCP spokeswoman Cameron Hardesty.
The new figures on marijuana use come as several states are debating whether and how to legalize and regulate the marijuana market. Much of the discussion has centered around whether legalized marijuana would lead to increased adolescent marijuana use, which has been linked with poor health and education outcomes later in life.

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