Drug use trends remain stable or decline among teens
The 2015 Monitoring the Future survey (MTF) shows decreasing use of a number of substances, including cigarettes, alcohol, prescription opioid pain relievers, and synthetic cannabinoids ("synthetic marijuana"). Other drug use remains stable, including marijuana, with continued high rates of daily use reported among 12th graders, and ongoing declines in perception of its harms.
The MTF survey measures drug use and attitudes among eighth, 10th, and 12th graders, and is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. Researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor have conducted the survey since 1975.
For the first time, daily marijuana use exceeds daily tobacco cigarette use among 12th graders. Daily marijuana use for this group remained relatively stable at 6%, compared to 5.5% reporting daily cigarette smoking (down from 6.7% in 2014).
"We are heartened to see that most illicit drug use is not increasing, nonmedical use of prescription opioids is decreasing, and there is improvement in alcohol and cigarette use rates," says Nora D. Volkow, MD, director of NIDA. "However, continued areas of concern are the high rate of daily marijuana smoking seen among high school students, because of marijuana's potential deleterious effects on the developing brains of teenagers, and the high rates of overall tobacco products and nicotine containing e-cigarettes usage."
"This year's Monitoring the Future data continue the promising trends from last year with declining rates of adolescent substance use, and support the value of evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery," says National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli. "Efforts to prevent drug use from ever starting are particularly important as we work to reduce the rising number of drug overdoses across the country. I encourage parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors to have a conversation with the young people in their lives about making the healthy decisions that will keep them on a path toward a successful future."
"We are very encouraged by the continued decline in underage drinking illustrated in these data," said George F. Koob, PhD, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "However, the percent of underage individuals drinking still remains unacceptably high. For example, approximately 40% of 12th graders have reported being drunk in the past year and binge drinking remains a significant problem."