High School and Youth Trends
Trends in Use
Since 1975, the Monitoring the Future Survey (MTF)
has annually studied the extent of drug abuse among high school 12th-graders.
The survey was expanded in 1991 to include 8th- and 10th-graders. It
is funded by NIDA and is conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute
for Social Research. The goal of the survey is to collect data on 30-day,
annual, and lifetime* drug use among students in these grade levels.
This, the 30th annual study, was conducted during 2004. (1)
Decreases or stability in use patterns were noted for
the most part from 2003 to 2004. However, for the second year significant
increases in inhalant abuse were seen among 8th-graders. Even a single
session of repeated inhalant abuse can disrupt heart rhythms and cause
death from cardiac arrest or lower oxygen levels enough to cause suffocation.
Regular abuse of inhalants can result in serious damage to vital organs,
including the brain, heart, kidneys, and liver.
These are the key findings from the 2004 MTF:
Any illicit drug - 30-day use
of any illicit drug decreased significantly among 8th-graders, from
9.7 percent in 2003 to 8.4 percent in 2004.
Inhalants - Lifetime use of inhalants
increased significantly among 8th-graders, from 15.8 percent in
2003 to 17.3 percent in 2004, continuing an upward trend in use
noted among 8th-graders last year, after several years of decline.
Since 2001, there appears to be a gradual decline among 8th-graders
in the perceived risk of using inhalants.
Prescription Drugs - Annual use
of Ritalin and Rohypnol remained
statistically unchanged for all grades from 2003 to 2004. Annual
use of Vicodin and OxyContin
remained stable among all grades, but at somewhat high levels. Annual
use of Vicodin was at 2.5 percent for 8th-graders, 6.2 percent for
10-graders, and 9.3 percent for 12th-graders. Annual use of OxyContin
was at 1.7 percent for 8th-graders, 3.5 percent for 10th-graders,
and 5.0 percent for 12th-graders. (2)
Marijuana - 30-day use of marijuana
was down significantly among 8th-graders, from 7.5 percent in 2003
to 6.4 percent in 2004. Some strengthening of attitudes against
marijuana use also occurred among 8th- and 10th-graders.
MDMA (Ecstasy) - Lifetime use
of MDMA decreased significantly for 10th-graders, from 5.4 percent
in 2003 to 4.3 percent in 2004. Some strengthening of attitudes
against use was seen among 10th- and 12th-graders. All grades had
decreases in the perception of the availability of MDMA.
Methamphetamine - Use decreased
significantly among 8th-graders, from 3.9 percent in 2003 to 2.5
percent in 2004 for lifetime use; from 2.5 percent in 2003 to 1.5
percent in 2004 for annual use; and from 1.2 percent in 2003 to
0.6 percent in 2004 for 30-day use.
GHB and Ketamine - Significant
decreases in annual use were seen among 10th-graders for GHB, from
1.4 percent in 2003 to 0.8 percent in 2004, and Ketamine, from 1.9
percent in 2003 to 1.3 percent in 2004.
LSD - Lifetime use of LSD decreased
significantly among 12th-graders, from 5.9 percent in 2003 to 4.6
percent in 2004, continuing the pattern of decreases in LSD use
noted in 2002 and 2003.
Anabolic Steroids - Use of steroids
decreased significantly among 8th-graders, from 2.5 percent in 2003
to 1.9 percent in 2004 for lifetime use and from 1.4 percent in
2003 to 1.1 percent in 2004 for annual use. Among 10th-graders,
lifetime use decreased significantly, from 3.0 percent in 2003 to
2.4 percent in 2004, continuing the decrease in use among 10th-graders
seen in 2003. Steroid use among 12th-graders, however, remained
stable at peak levels.
Cocaine, other than Crack - A
significant increase in use of cocaine other than crack was seen
among 10th-graders, from 1.1 percent in 2003 to 1.5 percent in 2004,
for 30-day use. An increase in the perception of availability of
all forms of cocaine was seen among 12th-graders.
Cigarettes/Nicotine - Cigarette
smoking decreased significantly among 10th-graders, from 43.0 percent
in 2003 to 40.7 percent in 2004 for lifetime use and from 4.1 percent
in 2003 to 3.3 percent in 2004 for those smoking one-half pack or
more per day. The perception of harm from smoking one or more packs
per day increased significantly among 8th- and 10th-graders from
2003 to 2004.
Alcohol, heroin, crack cocaine, hallucinogens
other than LSD, PCP, amphetamines, tranquilizers, sedatives,
and methaqualone remained stable among all grades
from 2003 to 2004.
Perceived Risk of Harm, Disapproval, & Perceived Availability
In addition to studying drug use among 8th-, 10th-,
and 12th-graders, MTF collects information on three attitudinal indicators
related to drug use. These are perceived risk of harm in taking a drug,
disapproval of others who take drugs, and perceived availability of
The following POSITIVE attitudinal changes are from
2003 to 2004:
Marijuana - Significant increases
occurred among 8th-graders in perceived risk for regular marijuana
use and for trying it once or twice. Additionally, disapproval of
trying marijuana once or twice or smoking it occasionally increased
significantly among 8th-graders. Among 10th-graders, disapproval
of smoking marijuana occasionally or regularly increased significantly.
Perceived availability of marijuana decreased significantly among
Cigarettes/Nicotine - The perceived
risk associated with smoking one or more packs of cigarettes per
day increased significantly among 8th- and 10th-graders. Perceived
availability of cigarettes decreased significantly among 8th-graders.
MDMA (Ecstasy) - Among 10th-graders,
the perceived risk of taking MDMA occasionally increased significantly,
as did their disapproval of trying MDMA once or twice. Among 12th-graders,
disapproval of taking MDMA once or twice increased significantly.
Perceived availability of MDMA significantly decreased for all three
Heroin - A significant increase
was noted in the percentage of 12th-graders who perceive risk in
using heroin occasionally without a needle. Among 8th-graders, the
perceived availability of heroin decreased significantly.
Alcohol - Among 12th-graders,
a significant increase was seen in the percentage perceiving risk
in taking one or two drinks nearly every day.
Inhalants - Among 10th-graders,
a significant increase was seen in the percentage disapproving of
using inhalants regularly.
LSD - The perceived availability
of LSD decreased significantly among 8th-graders. A significant
increase was noted in the percentage of 12th-graders who disapprove
of using LSD once or twice.
PCP - The perceived availability
of PCP decreased significantly among 8th-graders.
Cocaine and Crack - The perceived
availability of cocaine and crack decreased significantly among
The perceived availability of narcotics
other than heroin, amphetamines, crystal methamphetamine (ice),
tranquilizers, alcohol, and steroids decreased
significantly among 8th-graders.
The following NEGATIVE attitudinal changes are from
2003 to 2004:
Heroin - A significant decrease
was noted in the percentage of 12th-graders who perceive risk in
using heroin regularly.
LSD - A significant decrease
occurred in the percentage of 8th-graders who disapprove of taking
Inhalants - The gradual decline
among 8th-graders since 2001 in the perceived risk of using inhalants
continued from 2003 to 2004.
Cocaine - An increase in the
perception of availability of all forms of cocaine was seen among
(1) For the 2004 MTF, 49,474 students in a nationally
representative sample of 406 public and private schools were surveyed
about lifetime, annual, 30-day, and daily use of drugs, alcohol, and
cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. The latest data are online at www.drugabuse.gov.
(2) For more information on the misuse or nonmedical use of pain medications
or other prescription drugs, please visit www.drugabuse.gov and click
on Prescription Medications under Drugs of Abuse.