Teenagers’ use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco declined significantly in 2016 at rates that are at their lowest since the 1990s, a new national study showed.
But University of Michigan researchers cautioned that while these developments are “trending in the right direction,” marijuana still remains high for 12th-graders.
The results derive from the annual Monitoring the Future study, now in its 42nd year. About 45,000 students in some 380 public and private secondary schools have been surveyed each year in this national study, designed and conducted by research scientists at U-M’s Institute for Social Research and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Students in grades 8, 10 and 12 are surveyed.
Overall, the proportion of secondary school students in the country who used any illicit drug in the prior year fell significantly between 2015 and 2016. The decline in narcotic drugs is of particular importance, the researchers say. This year’s improvements were particularly concentrated among 8th- and 10th-graders.
Considerably fewer teens reported using any illicit drug other than marijuana in the prior 12 months—5 percent, 10 percent and 14 percent in grades 8, 10 and 12, respectively—than at any time since 1991. These rates reflect a decline of about one percentage point in each grade in 2016, but a much larger decline over the longer term.
In fact, the overall percentage of teens using any of the illicit drugs other than marijuana has been in a gradual, long-term decline since the last half of the 1990s, when their peak rates reached 13 percent, 18 percent and 21 percent, respectively.
For more information about marijuana use and other illicit drugs addressed in the study, click here.