HHS News
Monday, December 16, 2002
Contact: NIDA Press Office
(301) 443-6245

2002 Monitoring the Future Survey Shows Decrease
in Use of Marijuana, Club Drugs, Cigarettes and Tobacco

Results from the annual Monitoring the Future Survey of 8th, 10th and 12th grade students in U.S. schools indicate that use of marijuana, some club drugs, cigarettes and alcohol decreased from 2001 to 2002, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The survey shows that the proportion of 8th and 10th graders reporting the use of any illicit drug in the prior 12 months declined significantly from 2001 to 2002. The decrease among 8th graders continues a decline in illicit drug use begun in 1997, but this is the first significant decline among 10th graders since 1998.

"This year's survey brings more encouraging news about the decline in teens' use of marijuana, ecstasy, cigarettes and alcohol," HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said. "We will continue our campaign to educate every new generation of Americans about the dangers of drug abuse and enlist the help of parents, teachers and the community to keep our children healthy and drug free."

In addition to finding an overall decline in drug use, the survey also found the use of MDMA (Ecstasy) showed statistically significant declines for the first time after rising rapidly in recent years. Past month and past year MDMA use decreased significantly for all three grades lumped together, and, for individual grades, significant reductions were found for the 10th graders in these time periods. There were no increases in MDMA use for any of the grades.

"This year's survey shows a very promising downward trend in teens' use of marijuana, ecstasy, cigarettes and LSD," said Dr. Glen Hanson, acting director, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). "I want to congratulate the youth of America for making wise health decisions to avoid these substances. We will continue to provide them with science-based information to educate them about the dangers of drug abuse."

Marijuana use in the past year decreased significantly among 10th graders, reaching its lowest rate since 1995. Marijuana use by 8th graders also has declined in recent years and is now at its lowest level since 1994.

"Teen drug use is once again headed in the right direction — down. This survey confirms that our drug prevention efforts are working and that when we work together and push back, the drug problem gets smaller," said John P. Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

In addition, LSD use declined sharply and significantly at all three grades in 2002. The decline was particularly large for 12th graders. Rates of LSD use are the lowest in the history of the survey among students in all three grades.

Steroid use remained stable from 2001 to 2002 in each grade and reporting period.

The only significant increases in drug use were crack use by 10th graders in the past year and use of sedatives by 12th graders in the past year.

For the first time, the survey looked at the abuse of Oxycontin and Vicodin, prescription drugs used to relieve pain. Nonmedical use of Oxycontin in the past year was reported by 4.0 percent of 12th graders, and Vicodin use in the same time period was reported by 9.6 percent of 12th graders.

In addition, the survey showed important declines in adolescent alcohol use from 2001 to 2002. There were significant decreases in alcohol consumption by 8th and 10th graders. There were also declines in the proportions of 8th and 10th graders saying that they got drunk in their lifetime and in the previous year. Among 10th graders, having been drunk in the past month and binge drinking in the past two weeks also decreased.

Cigarette smoking decreased significantly in each grade, expanding on a recent trend. Significant declines occurred in all three grade levels in 2002, continuing a steady and substantial decline in teen smoking that began after 1996 among 8th and 10th graders, and after 1997 among 12th graders. Lifetime prevalence of smoking fell between 2001 and 2002 by between 4 and 5 percentage points in each grade, making clear that teenage cigarette smoking is now declining sharply.

In general, these declines in cigarette smoking are occurring among all subgroups: males and females, college-bound and not, all four major Census regions of the country, cities and rural areas, all socioeconomic strata, and the three major racial/ethnic groups (whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics). All of these subgroups have now shown substantial declines from peak levels of cigarette use.

"Lifetime" refers to use at least once during a respondent's lifetime. "Past year" refers to an individual's drug use at least once during the year preceding their response to the survey. "Past month" refers to an individual's drug use at least once during the month preceding their response to the survey.



Heroin and Other Opiates

Use of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco



Club Drugs

Alcohol Use

Perceived Harmfulness, Disapproval, and Perceived Availability

The Monitoring the Future Survey, conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), at the National Institutes of Health, has tracked 12th graders' illicit drug use and attitudes towards drugs since 1975. In 1991, 8th and 10th graders were added to the study. The 2002 study surveyed a representative sample of more than 43,000 students in 394 schools across the nation about lifetime use, past year use, past month use, and daily use of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Findings from the report will be available at http://www.nida.nih.gov/.

Monitoring the Future is one of three major surveys sponsored by HHS that provide data on substance use among youth. The other two are the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

The NHSDA, sponsored by HHS' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is the primary source of statistical information on illicit drug use in the U.S. population 12 years of age and older. Conducted periodically from 1971 and annually since 1990, the survey collects data in household interviews, currently using computer-assisted self-administration for drug-related items. The findings for 2001 have recently been released and are available at http://www.drugabusestatistics.samhsa.gov.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), part of HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, is a school survey that collects data from students in grades 9-12. YRBS, which began in 1990 and has been conducted biennially since 1991, includes questions on a wide variety of health-related risk behaviors, not simply drug abuse. The most recent findings from YRBS, for 2001, are available at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/yrbs/index.htm.

Monitoring the Future Study Results

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