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It is quite normal to think the next generation is “going to Hell in a hand basket,” but there is new information that flies in the face of that idea.


This generation of American teenagers is the best-behaved in modern history. They are drinking and smoking less as well as doing fewer drugs than their predecessors in a study of more than 40 years of tracking. That term produces real facts from data.


Even use of marijuana is down among eighth through tenth-graders, the trend is flat for high school seniors, according to the “Monitoring the Future” survey of American teens.


The experts wonder why this is happening and have not come up with an hypothesis, but we think the reason is obvious that this is a “high information” generation. While “man in the street” interviews we see on TV by people like Jesse Watters of Fox TV show how little they know of American history is shocking, this evidence suggests they are learning on their own that psychotropic drugs are destructive and dangerous in life.


And, where this generation tends not to get on the first step of the drug use ladder they do not climb up to the really dangerous drugs. Nonetheless, heroin use is an epidemic in the United States today, but it appears to be primarily older users.


The percentage of eighth-graders who reported using marijuana in the past month fell from 6.5% in 2015 to 5.4% this year, which is a 17% drop within one year! Among high school seniors, 22.5% used the drug within the past month and 6% used it daily, essentially unchanged from last year, which is disappointing, but is likely driven by the new legalizations in some states. States where medical marijuana is legal had higher rates of daily and monthly teenage use and this is a trend worth tracking.


Research was not done for years due to the drug’s illegal status, thus research has yet to catch up to usage. It not clear how marijuana use affects the developing brain. Regular marijuana use leads to impairments in memory and learning, but it’s not known how long those effects last or if they become permanent. Nonetheless, it does appear younger teens are getting the message they’re better off staying away from marijuana.


Juveniles are all also avoiding the opioid epidemic that is devastating young adult communities. Among 12th-graders, use of prescription opioid pain killers dropped significantly. Vicodin use, for example, fell from nearly 10% a decade ago to 2.9% this year a 70% drop which is not a trend, but a new reality.


In 1991, nearly 11% of high school seniors smoked a half pack of cigarettes or more a day. This year, only 1.8% say they smoke that much, an 83% drop, but 10.5% report any smoking in the last month. Even e-cigarette use fell among high school seniors, from 16% last year to 12% this year which is encouraging as “e-cigarettes” have had positive publicity. Where the only visible change in our culture is access to more information our young people are demonstrating they can make important decisions on their own!


Alcohol use is also at its lowest level ever: 37.3% of 12th-graders said they have been drunk at least once, down from a high of 53.2% in 2001 and that is a precipitous drop in 15 years. While it will never hit, zero we would expect it to level at about 15% in another 15 years.
Use of illicit drugs other than marijuana hit historic lows in the 42nd annual survey, which included 45,473 eighth, tenth and twelfth-graders from 372 public and private schools nationwide.


We find all this very exciting as there are many messages in this data: It shows that our young people are capable of making good decisions when they are better informed. They do not have to be forced into “correct” choices. They can make them when they are fully informed. This speaks well for our future and it says we are not going to Hell in a hand basket.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

Adrian Vance

Trained as a science teacher, with eight years classroom experience, he has been writing professionally since the age of 15. He was the youngest person to be published in Journal of the Illinois Academy of Science at 17 as a result of a paper he wrote suggesting a revision in the science teaching curriculum. Publication was accidental as his teacher headed the selection committee and his paper was sent to the printer in error. Nonetheless, it received positive response. It proposed teaching General Science, then Physics followed by Chemistry with Biology in the senior year given the then new molecular focus in Biology. During his college years he worked on the school newspaper, primarily as a photographer and did an occasional feature, some of which caused him to be called to the Dean's office. "You don't like the way we do things here?" was the usual opening remark followed by the expected suggestion. After his third year, exhausted and without direction, he left for one year, but returned, when Sputnik and Admiral Rickover's books documented a crisis in American education. He felt called to teach and completed a B.S. in Physical Science at Illinois State University with a major in chemistry, minor in biology, near minors physics and education. He did graduate work in both Illinois and California completing a California Life Diploma teaching credential in 1962. While teaching he saw many needs and opportunities in educational publishing so he wrote and produced educational materials, primarily filmstrips and sound recordings. He also wrote for photographic magazines as film work put him in touch with many photographic and production problems. He has 325 screen credits in educational, industrial film and filmstrip as a writer-producer. In 1976 he won the Learning Magazine “Best of the Year” award for his “You in the Universe” filmstrip series and the New York Film and Television Festival Silver Medal for “An Introduction to Cells” filmstrip series. For a partial database of Adrian’s publications please click on and you will see them listed by series title and publisher. Each series title included four to 30 filmstrips and all are not fully listed in this database. The grand total is over 800. Over that 30 years Mr. Vance also wrote other material: two books, published in New York: “UFO’s: The Eye and the Camera” for Barlenmir House and “Audiovisual Production” for Amphoto Books. He wrote and illustrated over 100 features and columns for photography magazines. He was a Founding Contributing Editor for Peterson's PhotoGraphic Magazine and the West Coast Editor of Popular Photography from 1974 to 1978, writing a monthly column for the magazine. As a result of underwater photography work he contributed to SKIN DIVER magazine in the 70's. His "Timing Waves to Enter The Sea" article, first appearing in SKIN DIVER, is now a chapter in a classified U.S. Navy Seals training manual. "UFO's, The Eye and the Camera" documents his "Two channel information theory for the analysis of events simultaneously seen and photographed." It is the first comparative analysis of vision and photography written with the idea of combining information from both sources into a single analysis that can be used scientifically and forensically. Mr. Vance is also credited with solving the mystery of how complete maps of Earth were drawn in antiquity and he rediscovered Captain Cook's secret method of locating Pacific islands so well their positions have only recently been improved. He is cited with discovering the method in the seventh edition of "The Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings," by Dr. Charles Hapgood and he later contributed to a definitive article on cartography in antiquity for The Smithsonian Magazine as they confirmed his method. On February 19, 1976 Mr. Vance got a “Certificate of Appreciation” award from the Los Angeles Police Department “in grateful recognition of his generosity in make available to officers of this Department the talents and training of his German Shepherd, Boris. The ready willingness of Mr. Adrian Vance to become involved and to make available his valuable dog in a potentially hazardous situation deserves the gratitude and approbation of the entire Los Angeles Police Department.” This incident was critical to the LAPD administration’s realization that trained dogs could be of value in police work and they are now employed by the LAPD. When the computer replaced film the school market audio-visual field he switched horses at full gallop and produced 460 computer educational disk systems for the Apple II computer over 15 years. During that time he became a professional broadcaster in the 90's to promote the State Water bond issue in Santa Barbara, California as he felt it was critical for the town. He was publicly credited for having been one of the top ten reasons the measure passed thanks to his book “Drought in Paradise” and radio work. The collapse of his software business when Apple Computer discontinued the "II" machine line in 1995 crystallized the failure of his second marriage. With no clear direction in the school market supplemental materials field he sought a career in broadcasting in Las Vegas, Nevada doing shows on both KDWN and KXNT. This was unsatisfying due to the "star" economics of commercial radio where a few performers make millions and everyone else starves. Mr. Vance has also been a day trader, strategist, system developer and author on the equities markets and trading. He now trades stock, land and develops residential property. His website and trading information service, "The Stock Surfer" was a leading Internet service for seven years. He has been developing “The Young Americans” series of Young Adult novels promoting conservative values as well as his personal memoir, “A Long Way From Normal.” You can buy Adrian Vance’ books or downloads at December 21, 2010 he was awarded US. Patent 7,855,061 for his “Fuel Farm” that makes a gasoline equivalent 100 Octane fuel, butanol, from CO2, water and sunlight with algae and bacteria. You can see the full disclosure websites regarding his inventions at: and -30-


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