Teen Marijuana Use Is Fueled By Change In Attitudes

Rising teen marijuana use is fueled by change in attitudes about the drug, not rebellion among the baby boomlet, U-M study shows.

EDITORs: The table and graph are available upon request.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.--Changes in student attitudes about marijuana, not a general rise in rebellious or delinquent behavior among the teen-age children of baby boomers, are driving recent increases in the use of the drug by 8th-, 10th- and 12th-graders. That is one of the key findings from a University of Michigan analysis of the reasons behind historic fluctuations in teen marijuana use published in the current (June 1998) issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The analysis, conducted at the U-M Institute for Social Research by Jerald G. Bachman, Lloyd D. Johnston, and Patrick M. O'Malley, is based on data from the annual Monitoring the Future study of teen drug use and attitudes. The research is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one of the National Institutes of Health.

The new analysis by Bachman, a social psychologist, and colleagues, is based on surveys of 61,000 high school seniors from the classes of 1976 through 1996, and of 88,000 eighth-graders and 82,000 10th-graders from 1991 through 1996. It examines how marijuana use is related to student attitudes about the drug itself and to a variety of general "lifestyle" factors, including school grades, truancy, hours spent working, average weekly income, religious commitment, political beliefs, and the number of evenings a week that teens hang out with friends.

"Individual differences in some of the lifestyle factors we examined are important risk factors in determining which students are likely to use marijuana---or other drugs, for that matter," says Bachman. "But as important as they are, these lifestyle factors alone cannot account for the recent changes in marijuana use."

The data from th

Contact: Diane Swanbrow
(734) 647-4416
University of Michigan

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