14:59 GMT04 December 2020
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    According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teenagers in the United States are drinking less alcoholic beverages and using fewer illegal drugs, excluding marijuana, but that well-documented addictive behavior is now suggested by some to have migrated to online multiplayer gaming.

    A Monitoring the Future study released Tuesday found that alcohol use has dramatically dropped among teens. In 2001, 53 percent of high school seniors reported being drunk at least once, and now just 37.3 percent report the same. The act of being intoxicated by alcohol is at the lowest level the group has ever recorded.

    Opioid use has also declined significantly, from nearly 10 percent a decade ago, to just 2.9 percent of high school seniors reporting having used it in 2016.

    Researchers, conducting the study annually for the last 42 years, state that they are unsure of the reasons for the drop in alcohol and drug usage. 

    "The question is: Why is all this happening?" Lloyd Johnston, who has led the survey since it was begun in 1975, said, according to USA Today. "Even though we have some hypotheses, I don’t know that we necessarily have the right ones."

    Some experts believe that the drop is due is because less teenagers are smoking cigarettes, which they claim is a gateway to drug use.

    "In 1991, nearly 11 percent of high school seniors smoked a half pack of cigarettes or more a day. This year, only 1.8 percent said they smoke that much, and 10.5 percent reported any smoking in the last month.  Even e-cigarette use fell among high school seniors, from 16 percent last year to 12 percent this year," USA Today reports.

    The director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora Volkow, has a different idea. She believes that the decline may be, at least in part, thanks to online and multiplayer gaming environments, as well as social media.

    "The development of very, very fancy video games has resulted in a pattern of compulsive use of these games that may serve as a substitute for drug-taking," Volkow said. "I’m speculating, but it needs to be tested."

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    Tags:
    video games, survey, drugs, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Lloyd Johnston, Nora Volkow, US
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