The 2000 survey of drug use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders found that illicit drug use, including the use of marijuana, generally remained unchanged in the last year. The survey marks the fourth year in a row that the use of any illicit drugs among teenagers has stayed level or declined in all categories: lifetime, past year and past month use.
The survey also found that cigarette use among teens dropped significantly, with past month use of cigarettes down from 17.5 percent to 14.6 percent among 8th graders and from 34.6 percent to 31.4 percent among 12th graders in the last year. Reductions in other categories of smoking also occurred among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. Alcohol use remained largely unchanged.
Among 8th graders, disapproval of trying marijuana once or twice increased for the second year in a row to 72.5 percent. Disapproval rates among 12th graders also increased, with 52.5 percent of seniors disapproving of trying marijuana once or twice. Among 8th and 10th graders, perceived risks of smoking increased and the perceived availability of cigarettes decreased.
Among the few statistically significant changes reported were increases in the use of MDMA (ecstasy) in each grade; decreases in the use of cocaine among seniors; and increases in the use of steroids among 10th graders.
"This year's survey confirms that teens' use of marijuana and most other drugs has leveled off and even decreased among younger students. And we've also begun to have a positive impact on teen smoking," HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala said. "But we must remain vigilant to new threats, particularly that of so-called club drugs such as ecstasy. Parents and teachers need to realize that they are the first and best influences on children's attitudes about alcohol, tobacco and drugs."
"We are greatly encouraged by the results of the MTF Survey," said Barry McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "The National Drug Control Strategy is working. In combination with the National Household and Pride Surveys released earlier this year, we have seen a continued downward trend in overall drug use among youth. Heroin use is down among 8th graders, a good sign for the future and reversing the heroin upsurge of recent years. Cocaine use is down among 12th graders following the recent reduction of cocaine abuse in younger ages. However, the increase in ecstasy is a cause for concern that needs to be addressed, and the National Youth Media Campaign's radio and TV ads target this new threat."
According to the Monitoring the Future Survey, past year use of any illicit drug by 8th graders has declined significantly since 1997 from 22.1 percent to 19.5 percent in 2000. Drug use among 10th graders is down from 38.5 percent in 1997 to 36.4 percent in 2000. For seniors, past year use of any illicit drug has remained relatively stable, from 42.4 percent in 1997 to 40.9 percent in 2000.
Past year use of steroids rose from 1.7 percent to 2.2 percent among 10th graders. From 1999 to 2000, use of steroids remained stable among 8th and 12th graders. Among teenage males, where most steroid use is concentrated, past year use was reported by 2.2 percent of 8th graders, 3.6 percent of 10th graders, and 2.5 percent of 12th graders.
For the second year in a row, there was an increase in the use of MDMA (ecstasy) among 10th and 12th graders, but for the first time, there was an increase in use among 8th graders. Past year use increased significantly among 8th graders from 1.7 percent to 3.1 percent and among 12th graders from 5.6 percent to 8.2 percent. Past year use increased among 10th graders, although not statistically significant, from 4.4 percent in 1999 to 5.4 percent in 2000.
"The recent increases in MDMA use are of great concern. Last year when it was first reported that the use of ‘club drugs' was on the rise, we launched a special Web site to disseminate reliable, science-based information that almost half a million people have visited," said Dr. Alan I. Leshner, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Our research shows that ecstasy is a dangerous drug. It is not a 'fun' drug. Serious consequences include dehydration, hypertension, hyperthermia, and heart or kidney failure. We will continue to release the latest research findings to ensure that the public is aware of the risks associated with this drug."
Illicit Drug Use
- Marijuana use in the lifetime, past year, and past month categories remained statistically unchanged from 1999 to 2000. Past year use of marijuana was 15.6 percent for 8th graders, 32.2 percent for 10th graders, and 36.5 percent for 12th graders.
- Use of several specific illicit drugs, including PCP, narcotics other than heroin, methamphetamine, crystal methamphetamine ("ice"), barbiturates, tranquilizers, and Rohypnol, also remained stable for all teenagers in all categories from 1999 to 2000: lifetime, past year, past month, and daily (where applicable) use.
- Over the past three or four years, several illicit drugs including inhalants, LSD, and Rohypnol have shown declining trends in all three grades.
- Cocaine use by seniors decreased from 1999 to 2000 in several categories. Overall, past year use of cocaine decreased from 6.2 percent to 5.0 percent, while past year crack use declined from 2.7 percent to 2.2 percent, and past year use of other cocaine decreased from 5.8 percent to 4.5 percent.
- Past year crack use by 8th graders decreased from a 10-year high of 2.1 percent in 1998 to 1.8 percent in 1999 and 2000.
- Among seniors, heroin use in the past year increased from 1.1 percent in 1999 to 1.5 percent in 2000. Although these rates are still below 2.0 percent, this is the first significant increase in some time, resulting in the highest rate of seniors' heroin use since the survey began.
- Among 8th graders, past year heroin use decreased from 1.4 percent in 1999 to 1.1 percent in 2000. This decline in heroin use among 8th graders is the first since 1997.
- Among 8th graders, lifetime use of inhalants decreased from 19.7 percent in 1999 to 17.9 percent in 2000. Inhalant use continues to be generally more prevalent among 8th graders than students in the other two grades.
- Among 12th graders, past year use of hallucinogens declined from 9.4 percent in1999 to 8.1 percent in 2000.
- Past year use of LSD among seniors decreased from 8.1 percent in 1999 to 6.6 percent in 2000.
Use of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco
- Past month use of cigarettes decreased among 8th graders from 17.5 percent in1999 to 14.6 percent in 2000 and among 12th graders from 34.6 percent to 31.4 percent.
- Use of cigarettes at least once in the student's lifetime decreased from 44.1 percent in 1999 to 40.5 percent in 2000 among 8th graders and from 57.6 percent to 55.1 percent among 10th graders.
- Perceived availability of cigarettes decreased among 8th and 10th graders. Among 8th graders, it declined from 71.5 percent in 1999 to 68.7 percent in 2000, and among 10th graders it went from 88.3 percent to 86.8 percent over the past year.
- Perceived risk of harm from smoking one or more packs of cigarettes per day increased among 8th graders from 54.8 percent in 1999 to 58.8 percent in 2000 and among 10th graders from 62.7 percent in 1999 to 65.9 percent in 2000.
- While overall rates of smokeless tobacco use remained stable in the past year, past month use among seniors has decreased from its peak level of 12.2 percent in 1995 to 7.6 percent in 2000. Also, its perceived harmfulness among 10th graders increased from 44.2 percent in 1999 to 46.7 percent in 2000.
- Past year use of alcohol was 43.1 percent among 8th graders, 65.3 percent among 10th graders, and 73.2 percent among 12th graders.
- Daily use of alcohol among 8th graders decreased significantly from 1.0 percent to 0.8 percent from 1999 to 2000.
- In 2000, 30.0 percent of 12th graders, 26.2 percent of 10th graders, and 14.1 percent of 8th graders reported binge drinking, defined as five or more drinks in a row, at least once in the two weeks prior to the survey.
- 32.3 percent of 12th graders, 23.5 percent of 10th graders, and 8.3 percent of 8th graders reported having "been drunk" in the past month. Although not a significant change from last year, the 23.5 percent figure for 10th graders for having "been drunk" in the past month is the highest since the survey started including students in the 10th grade in 1991.
Perceived Harm, Disapproval, and Perceived Availability
- Among seniors, perceived harmfulness of steroid use decreased from 62.1 percent in 1999 to 57.9 percent in 2000, the second year of substantial decline.
- Among 12th graders, perceived availability of MDMA (ecstasy) increased from 40.1 percent in1999 to 51.4 percent in 2000.
- Among 10th graders, the perceived harmfulness of using cocaine and crack decreased. Perceptions of "great risk" in "taking crack occasionally" decreased from 79.1 percent in 1999 to 76.9 percent in 2000, and perceived risk of "trying cocaine powder once or twice" decreased from 51.6 percent to 48.8 percent.
- Among 10th graders, the perceived availability of crack and cocaine powder decreased from 36.5 percent in 1999 to 34.0 percent in 2000, and 36.7 percent in 1999 to 34.5 percent in 2000, respectively.
- Disapproval of regular LSD use decreased among 8th graders from 72.5 percent in 1999 to 69.3 percent in 2000.
Long-term Trends (seniors only)
- For past year prevalence, self-reported marijuana use by seniors peaked at 50.8 percent in 1979 and then declined to a low of 21.9 percent in 1992. Past year marijuana use then increased steadily to 38.5 percent in 1997. Since that time it has declined, although not significantly, to 36.5 percent in 2000.
- Daily smoking decreased from its peak level of 28.8 percent in 1977 to 21.3 percent in 1980 and then remained basically level for many years. During the early 1990s, increases were observed to a level of 24.6 percent in 1997, followed by a decrease in 1998 to 22.4 percent. The rate remained statistically unchanged in 1999 at 23.1 percent and declined significantly to 20.6 percent in 2000.
- "Binge drinking," defined as having five or more drinks in a row, at least once in the past two weeks reached its peak level in 1981 at 41.1 percent, declined substantially to a low of 27.5 percent in 1993, increased gradually to 31.5 percent in 1998, and has remained stable since then, ending at 30.0 percent in 2000.
Continuing our efforts to educate our country's youth about the dangers of substance abuse, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released today a new publication, Tips for Teens: The Truth About Club Drugs, with timely information on drugs used at dance parties and clubs across the nation.
In the past year, NIDA has also responded to the increasing use of club drugs and steroids by launching two important initiatives to educate teenagers, parents and caring adults about the serious health consequences of ecstasy and anabolic steroids. NIDA has introduced Web sites, www.clubdrugs.org and www.steroidabuse.org, and partnered with several national organizations and celebrities including the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and MTV's Loveline co-host Dr. Drew Pinsky, to ensure that the public has the latest reliable information on the dangers these drugs.
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 survey. The 2000 survey surveyed over 45,000 students in 435 schools across the nation about lifetime use, past year use, past month use, daily use of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
"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