Decline in Illicit Drug Use by 8th
Nation’s 8th graders
took center stage in this year’s
Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey,
showing a significant decline in both
smoking and illicit drug use in the
past year, part of a downward trend
for all measured age groups in the
In addition, 8th graders showed
a substantial long-term decline in
past-year alcohol use, down to 31.8
percent from its recent peak of 46.8
percent in 1994.
The Monitoring the Future project—now
in its 33rd year—is a series
of independent surveys of 8th, 10th,
and 12th graders conducted by researchers
at the University of Michigan under
a grant from the National Institute
on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National
Institutes of Health.
The 2007 results appear to reflect
an ongoing cultural shift among teens
and their attitudes about smoking
and substance abuse. Lifetime, past-month,
and daily smoking among 8th graders
has dropped considerably in the past
year, and daily cigarette smoking
among 8th graders dropped from
4 percent to 3 percent, down from
its 10.4 percent peak in 1996.
Similarly, annual prevalence of marijuana
use by 8th graders fell from 11.7
percent in 2006 to 10.3 percent in
2007, and is down from its 1996 peak
of 18.3 percent.
The survey also showed that while
past-year use of marijuana declined
among 8th graders in 2007, it remained
steady among 10th and 12th graders.
However, in the past decade, there
has been a slow downward trend in
overall illicit drug use driven by
gradual declines in marijuana smoking.
Past-year marijuana use among 10th
graders sits at 24.6 percent after
it peaked in 1997 at 34.8 percent.
Similarly, past-year marijuana use
among 12th graders registers at 31.7
percent after a 1997 peak of 38.5
The survey results are not without
concerns, however. Prescription drug
abuse remains high with virtually
no significant drop in nonmedical
use of most individual prescription
drugs. Vicodin® remains one of the
most commonly abused drugs among 12th
graders: 1 in 10 reported nonmedical
use in the past year.
Information on the Monitoring the
Future Survey is online at www.drugabuse.gov/Drugpages/MTF.html.
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