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Report shows that attitudes and behaviors regarding substances don't always match

October 1, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Data released in a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggest that many young people make distinctions between what constitutes safe substance-using behavior for them and what is safe for others.

Using statistics gathered from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the report states that while young people's perception of risk from smoking marijuana has decreased, levels of current use in the 12-to-17 age group have not seen a corresponding increase. Similarly, while youths' risk perception regarding smoking at least a pack of cigarettes a day has not changed greatly since 2009, past-month cigarette use in this group in 2014 was lower than it had been in more than a decade.

Overall data among all age groups show lower perceived risk from marijuana use at a time when past-month use of the drug is increasing. In 2002, 51.3% of surveyed individuals perceived great risk from smoking marijuana up to twice a week, but in the most recent survey that number was 34.3%.

The report, Substance Risk and Protective Factors and Initiation of Substance Use: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, also states that while perception of risk from near-daily binge drinking is steadily declining, current binge drinking rates have not been increasing.