Abstinence from substance use among adolescents is increasing


1. In a nationally representative survey of American adolescents, there was a fivefold increase in prevalence of lifetime abstinence from substance use among high school seniors.

2. Prevalence of lifetime abstinence from cigarettes and alcohol increased most drastically, whereas rates of marijuana and other substance use have remained more steady.

Substance use is an important modifiable health behavior, and previous studies have focused on use of individual substances. In this cross-sectional study, researchers sought to characterize trends in substance nonuse among adolescents by analyzing responses to the Monitoring the Future Project (MTF), a survey of nationally representative samples of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students between 1976 and 2014. Prevalence of lifetime abstinence from substance use among high school seniors has risen from 5% in 1976 to 26% in 2014, with similar trends among 8th- and 10th-grade students. Abstinence from cigarettes and alcohol increased dramatically during the study period, while abstinence of marijuana and other illicit substances increased only slightly and, in the case of marijuana, have fallen from peak levels in the 1990s. Students who were male, African American, or reported higher levels of religious involvement were significantly more likely to report lifetime abstinence. Lower odds of reporting lifetime abstinence were noted among students with low grade point average, past-month truancy, employment during the school year, and living in a single-parent household.

These findings are limited by self report bias. True prevalence may be underestimated because adolescents who were not in school to take the survey and those who were missing data for any substance were excluded from analysis. Nonetheless, the study is strengthened by its large, nationally representative sample of high school students. For physicians, these results highlight the importance of identifying and discussing the use of marijuana and other substances with adolescents and parents.


“Dirty jokes” found in Anne Frank’s diary

There was more to Anne Frank’s diary than we once thought. Two pages, which were previously covered in a brown masking paper, have been revealed by researchers at Dutch museums. The pages contained “four risque jokes and candid explanations of sex, contraception and prostitution” written by the Jewish teen, according to The Guardian.

The Anne Frank Museum, the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands used digital technology to show the writing on the pages.

They photographed the pages, backlit by a flash, and then used image-processing software to decipher the words, which were hard read because they were jumbled up with the writing on the reverse sides of the pages.
In the passage on sex, Anne described how a young woman gets her period around 14, saying that it is “a sign that she is ripe to have relations with a man but one doesn’t do that of course before one is married”.

On prostitution, she wrote: “All men, if they are normal, go with women, women like that accost them on the street and then they go together. In Paris they have big houses for that. Papa has been there.”

Anne wrote her diary while she and her family hid for more than two years. The family was provided with food and other essentials by a close-knit group of helpers, until 4 August 1944 when they were discovered and ultimately deported to Auschwitz.

Only Anne’s father, Otto Frank, survived the war. Anne and her sister died in Bergen-Belsen camp. Anne was 15.

Frank van Vree, the director of the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, says, “The dirty jokes are classics among growing children. They make it clear that Anne, with all her gifts, was above all also an ordinary girl.”

“Dirty jokes” found in Anne Frank’s diary