Today at the White House President Bush announced the results of this year’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey. This widely respected survey, conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, tracks smoking, drinking, and illicit drug use among the nation’s secondary school students, assessing every year about 50,000 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in more than 400 secondary schools.
The key findings are that 8th, 10th, and 12th graders across the country are continuing to show a gradual decline in the proportions reporting use of illicit drugs.
“The cumulative declines since recent peak levels of drug involvement in the mid-1990′s are quite substantial, especially among the youngest students,” said University of Michigan Distinguished Research Scientist Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator of the MTF study.
The proportion of 8th graders reporting use of an illicit drug at least once in the 12 months prior to the survey was 24 percent in 1996 but has fallen to 13 percent by 2007, a drop of nearly half. The decline has been less among 10th graders, from 39 percent to 28 percent between 1997 and 2007, and least among 12th graders, a decline from the recent peak of 42 percent in 1997 to 36 percent this year. All three grades showed some continuing decline this year in the prevalence of illicit drug use, though only the one-year decline in 8th grade (a drop of 1.6 percentage points) achieved statistical significance. The rates for the three grades now stand at 13 percent, 28 percent, and 36 percent. Today 860,000 fewer young people than in 2001 are using drugs.