Facts About Teenagers
and Drug Abuse
Monitoring the Future
Survey on Drug Abuse
Since 1975, the Monitoring the Future
Study has measured the extent of drug abuse among high school
seniors. In 1991, the study began also surveying 8th- and 10th-grade
students, providing estimates of drug use among a younger population.
- Among the graduating class of
1996, 50.8 percent of students had used an illicit drug by the
time they reached their senior year of high school, continuing
an upward trend from 40.7 percent in 1992 but still far below
the peak of 65.6 percent in 1981.
- Use of any illicit drug in the
preceding year (annual use) by seniors increased from 27.1 percent
in 1992 to 40.2 percent in 1996 after steadily declining from
a peak of 54.2 percent in 1979. The percentage of seniors who
had used an illicit drug within the preceding month (current use)
increased from 14.4 percent in 1992 to 24.6 percent in 1996.
of drug abuse, 1996: Monitoring the Future Study
- The lifetime use of marijuana
among 12th-graders increased from 32.6 percent in 1992 to 44.9
percent in 1996; however these rates are still below the high
levels of the peak years of 1978 and 1979. There were no statistically
significant increases in annual, current, or daily use of marijuana
among seniors from 1995 to 1996.
- Among 8th-graders, increases
in lifetime, annual, and current use of marijuana first reported
in 1992 continued through 1996. Between 1992 and 1996, lifetime
use increased from 11.2 percent to 23.1 percent; annual use increased
from 7.2 percent to 18.3 percent; and current use increased from
3.7 percent to 11.3 percent.
- Among 10th-graders, lifetime
use of marijuana increased from 21.4 percent in 1992 to 39.8 percent
in 1996. Annual use increased from 15.2 percent in 1992 to 33.6
percent in 1996, and current use increased from 8.1 percent in
1992 to 20.4 percent in 1996.
- In 1996, 44.9 percent of seniors
had used marijuana at least once (lifetime use), up from 32.6
percent in 1992. Annual use of marijuana among seniors peaked
at 50.8 percent in 1979, decreased steadily to 21.9 percent in
1992, and increased to 35.8 in 1995. Current use increased from
11.9 percent in 1992 to 21.9 percent in 1996.
of marijuana use in past year: Monitoring the Future Study
- The use of cocaine among 8th-,
10th-, and 12th-graders continued a gradual upward climb; however,
most increases between 1995 and 1996 did not reach statistical
significance. In 1996, 4.5 percent of 8th-graders, 6.5 percent
of 10th-graders, and 7.1 percent of 12th-graders used cocaine
at least once in their lives. In addition, in 1996, 1.3 percent
of 8th-graders, 1.7 percent of 10th-graders, and 2.0 percent of
12th-graders had used cocaine within the 30 days preceding the
- Crack cocaine use increased among
8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders between 1992 and 1996. Study results
showed that 2.9 percent of 8th-graders, 3.3 percent of 10th-graders,
and 3.3 percent of 12th-graders had used crack at least once;
1.8 percent of 8th-graders, 2.1 percent of 10th-graders, and 2.1
percent of 12th-graders used crack within the preceding year.
- Rates of lifetime, annual, and
current use of LSD among 8th-, 10th- and 12th-graders have gradually
increased each year since 1992. In 1996, 12.6 percent of seniors
had used LSD at least once in their lifetimes, and their annual
use of LSD was 8.8 percent, surpassing the corresponding levels
of use during the peak years of the mid-1970s.
- Annual use of LSD by 8th-graders
was 3.5 percent in 1996 (up from 1.7 percent in 1991). Annual
use for 10th-graders increased from 3.7 percent in 1991 to 6.9
percent in 1996.
- Use of inhalants tends to be
higher among 8th-graders than 10th- or 12th-graders. Among 8th-graders,
inhalants are the fourth most widely abused substances, behind
alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana.
- In 1996, more than one in five
8th-graders (21.2 percent) had used inhalants, which include glues,
aerosols, and solvents, at least once in their lives. Annual and
current use among 8th-graders was 12.2 percent and 5.8 percent,
- There was no statistically significant
change in lifetime or annual use of inhalants by 8th-, 10th-,
or 12th-graders between 1995 and 1996.
- Between 1995 and 1996, the percentage
of 8th-graders reporting daily use of alcohol increased from 0.7
percent to 1.0 percent. In addition, the percentage of 8th-graders
reporting having "been drunk" in the past month increased
from 8.3 percent in 1995 to 9.6 percent in 1996.
- Alcohol use among 10th- and 12th-graders
remained level but at high rates, with 21.3 percent of 10th-graders
and 31.3 percent of 12th-graders reporting having been drunk in
the past month.
- Binge drinking (having five or
more drinks in a row in the preceding 2 weeks) was reported by
30.4 percent of high school seniors, 24.8 percent of 10th-graders,
and 15.6 percent of 8th-graders in 1996.
- Cigarette smoking continued to
rise among 8th- and 10th-graders and remained at high levels among
12th-graders, although there were no statistically significant
changes in seniors' use. Between 1995 and 1996, use of cigarettes
in the past month increased from 19.1 to 21.0 percent among 8th-graders
and from 27.9 to 30.4 percent among 10th-graders. About one-third
of 12th-graders (34.0 percent) used cigarettes in the past month.
Part of the NIDA Capsule Series
- (C-83-07) [Revised September, 1997]
National Institute On Drug Abuse