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


For Release December 16, 2002

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.

Marijuana

  • Among 10th graders, marijuana/hashish use in the past year and past month decreased and daily use in the past month was down. Past year use decreased from 32.7 percent to 30.3 percent; past month use went from 19.8 percent to 17.8 percent, and daily use in the past month declined from 4.5 percent to 3.9 percent.
  • For the 8th graders, there has been slow but steady progress toward reduction of marijuana use. The past year marijuana use rate for 8th graders in 2002 -- 14.6 percent -- is the lowest rate seen since 1994, and well below the recent peak of 18.3 percent in 1996.

Cocaine

  • Cocaine use remained statistically unchanged from 2001 to 2002 for each grade and reporting period. Past year cocaine use was reported by 2.3 percent of 8th graders, 4.0 percent of 10th graders, and 5.0 percent of 12th graders.
  • This comes after declines in cocaine use among 10th graders from 2000 to 2001 and among 12th graders between 1999 and 2000.
  • Crack use showed a significant increase in past year use among 10th graders, returning to around its 2000 level following a decline in 2001. For 2002, 2.3 percent of 10th graders reported past year use of crack cocaine, compared with 1.8 percent in 2001 and 2.2 percent in 2000.

Heroin and Other Opiates

  • Heroin use by 8th, 10th and 12th graders remained stable from 2001 to 2002 following a decline from 2000 to 2001 among 10th and 12th graders. Past year use rates were around 1 percent in each grade.
  • New questions on nonmedical use of Oxycontin and Vicodin in the past year were added in the 2002 survey for each grade, and the findings give some reason for concern.
    • Oxycontin use in the past year without a doctor's orders was reported by 1.3 percent of 8th graders, 3.0 percent of 10th graders, and 4.0 percent of 12th graders.
    • Nonmedical use of Vicodin in the past year was reported by 2.5 percent of 8th graders, 6.9 percent of 10th graders, and 9.6 percent of 12th graders.

Use of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco

  • Cigarette use declined in each grade and several categories of use between 2001 and 2002.
    • Lifetime use -- 8th grade - 36.6 percent to 31.4 percent; 10th grade -- 52.8 percent to 47.4 percent; 12th grade -- 61.0 percent to 57.2 percent.
    • Past month use -- 8th grade -- 12.2 percent to 10.7 percent; 10th grade -- 21.3 percent to 17.7 percent; 12th grade -- 29.5 percent to 26.7 percent.
    • Daily use in past month -- 10th grade -- 12.2 percent to 10.1 percent; 12th -- 19.0 percent to 16.9 percent.
  • This follows several years of gradual decreases in cigarette smoking that started around 1996 for 8th graders and 1997 for 10th and 12th graders. However, year-to -year declines have not always been statistically significant in all grades, and the decreases seen between 2001 and 2002 are particularly notable.
    • Use of bidis in the past year declined among 10th graders from 4.9 percent in 2001 to 3.1 percent in 2002. Use of these small, flavored cigarettes from India was reported by 2.7 percent of 8th graders and 5.9 percent of 12th graders in 2002 based on the past-year reporting period. Use of Kreteks (clove-flavored cigarettes from Indonesia) in the past year was reported by 2.6 percent of 8th graders, 4.9 percent of 10th graders, and 8.4 percent of 12th graders in 2002.
  • Lifetime use of smokeless tobacco by 10th graders declined from 19.5 percent in 2001 to 16.9 percent in 2002.

Inhalants

  • Inhalant use in the lifetime decreased among 8th and 10th graders and past use decreased among 8th graders. Lifetime use went from 17.1 percent in 2001 to 15.2 percent in 2002 among 8th graders and from 15.2 percent to 13.5 percent among 10th graders.
  • In 2002, inhalant use among 8th and 10th graders in all reporting periods was the lowest seen in the history of the survey and the lowest in about 20 years for seniors.

Hallucinogens

  • Hallucinogen use in the lifetime, past year, and past month declined for 12th graders, and past year use was down among 10th graders.
  • LSD showed major changes from 2001 to 2002. Rates of use decreased markedly in each grade and reporting period. Past year use, for example, declined from 6.6 percent to 3.5 percent among 12th graders, from 4.1 percent to 2.6 percent among 10th graders and from 2.2 percent to 1.5 percent among 8th graders. These are the lowest rates of LSD use in the history of the survey for each grade.

Club Drugs

  • Rates of MDMA (Ecstasy) use decreased significantly among 10th graders. For this grade, past year use declined from 6.2 percent to 4.9 percent and past month use went from 2.6 percent to 1.8 percent. Use by 8th and 12th graders also showed signs of decline.

Alcohol Use

  • Between 2001 and 2002 significant reductions in alcohol use were observed among 8th and 10th graders in numerous categories of use, including lifetime, past year, and past month. The use rates in 8th and 10th graders are record lows in history of the survey in those grades.
  • Rates of having been drunk in the lifetime and past year decreased for 8th and 10th graders. Among 10th graders, the rate of binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row) in the past two weeks declined, as did the past-month rate of having been drunk.

Perceived Harmfulness, Disapproval, and Perceived Availability

  • Both perceived risk and disapproval of trying marijuana once or twice increased among 10th graders, but among 12th graders perceived risk of smoking marijuana regularly declined.
  • Attitudes toward MDMA (Ecstasy) use hardened. Perceived risk of occasional MDMA use increased among 8th graders and perceived risk of trying it once or twice increased among 10th and 12th graders. Disapproval of MDMA use increased significantly from 2001 to 2002 among students in all three grades.
  • Perceived risk and disapproval of trying LSD once or twice both increased among 12th graders, but among 10th graders perceived risk of regular LSD use decreased. Notably, perceived availability of LSD declined among students in all three grades.
  • Perceived risk of trying inhalants once or twice declined among 8th graders, and perceived risk of regular use of these substances decreased among 10th graders. Seniors are not asked about their attitudes regarding inhalant use.
  • Perceived availability of amphetamines decreased among 8th graders.

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.

NOTE: The graphics presented at the press conference are available in Acrobat (pdf) format:
Download: 2002mtfpressconf.pdf [pdf format 492 Kb]


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For more information about any item in this Release:

  • NIDA Contact:
    Blair Gately
    Michelle Person
    301-443-6245


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