(Washington, D.C.)—Teen drug use has declined by 23
percent since 2001 for 8th, 10th, and 12th graders
combined, with reductions in the use of nearly every
drug in every drug prevalence category, according to the
University of Michigan's 2006 Monitoring the Future
(MTF) study, released today. This translates into
approximately 840,000 fewer youth using illicit drugs in
2006 than in 2001. These reductions represent a nearly
exact achievement of President Bush's goal of reducing
youth drug use by 25 percent by 2006. Reductions in
illicit drug use among 8th and 10th graders exceeded the
President's goal, falling 30 and 26 percent since 2001,
The study also shows that while marijuana continues to be the
most commonly used illicit drug among teens, current use of
marijuana has dropped by 25 percent over the past five years.
And for the single year from 2005 to 2006, current marijuana use
dropped by seven percent among all three grades combined. Teen
use of amphetamines, particularly methamphetamine, dropped
significantly. The prevalence rates for meth use in all
categories, for all three grades, is either the lowest or among
the lowest recorded since the question was first included in the
MTF survey. Past-month use of methamphetamine among youth
plummeted by 50 percent since 2001, with less than one percent
(.7%) of students using meth at least once in the last 30 days
before the interview.
"There has been a substance abuse sea change among American
teens," said John P. Walters, director of National Drug Control
Policy. "They are getting the message that dangerous drugs
damage their lives and limit their futures. We know that if
people don't start using drugs during their teen years, they are
very unlikely to go on to develop drug problems later in life.
That's why this sharp decline in teen drug use is such important
news: It means that there will be less addiction, less
suffering, less crime, lower health costs, and higher
achievement for this upcoming generation of Americans."
"The Justice Department is committed to protecting teens from
the destructive effects of drug use," said Attorney General
Alberto R. Gonzales. "Since 2001, we have seen the number of
young people using drugs, especially methamphetamine, steadily
decline. These decreases are an encouraging sign that the
Administration's ongoing efforts to combat drug abuse are
helping American's children stay away from drugs."
Monitoring the Future also noted reductions in the following
drug categories between 2001 and 2006, including:
- Marijuana use is down in all categories for all grades
combined. Lifetime, past year, and past 30 day use decreased
18 percent, 20 percent, and 25 percent (from 35% to 29%; 26%
to 22%; and 17% to 13%, respectively).
- Use of cigarettes is down since 2001 in all four use
categories (lifetime, past month, daily, and more than
one-half pack per day) in all three grades.
- Youth use of alcohol was also down across the board—in all
five use categories (lifetime, past year, past month, daily,
and more than five drinks in a row in the last two weeks) and
in all three grades over five years.
- The use of steroids was down 40.2 percent, 36.8 percent,
and 20.6 percent for lifetime, past year, and past month use,
respectively for all three grades combined.
- Declines in the hallucinogens LSD and Ecstasy since 2001
have been dramatic, declining by as much as 50 percent to
An area of growing concern is the use of prescription drugs
among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. Indeed, this year's survey
shows that the use of OxyContin is the only drug that has seen
an increase among all three grades combined: past year use
increased 30 percent, from three percent in 2002 to four percent
in 2006. In addition, lifetime use of sedatives among seniors
increased 18 percent since 2001 (from 9% to 10%), and past year
use of Vicodin remained stable for all three grades, with three
percent, seven percent, and 10 percent of 8th, 10th, and 12th
graders reporting use, respectively.
"The Monitoring the Future study certainly reveals great news
today for America's youth and for the Media Campaign, but we
must not consider the job done," said Robert W. Denniston,
Director of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. "Teens
report that their parents seldom stay current with the threats
posed by pro-drug sources of misinformation, such as Internet
content that normalizes and trivializes drug use. Parents need
to keep talking to their kids about the dangers of drug use and
stay on top of current technologies that could pose additional
risks to their teens' health and safety."
The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, working closely
with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, has made great
strides in its efforts to alert teens and parents about the
dangers and harms of drug use, including marijuana. The Media
Campaign's new youth campaign, Above the Influence, encourages
teens to reject negative influences in their lives; not only
drugs themselves, but also pro-drug influences from peers, pop
culture, and technology sources. The Media Campaign was created
in 1998 by Congress with bipartisan support, with the goal of
educating and enabling young people to reject illicit drugs.
Counting on an unprecedented blend of public and private
partnerships, non-profit community service organizations,
volunteerism, and youth-to-youth communications, the Campaign is
designed to reach Americans of diverse backgrounds with clear,
consistent, and credible anti-drug messages.
However, budget cuts in recent years have forced the Media
Campaign to substantially scale back on its advertising and
public education budgets. Due to the limited funds, the most
recent parent television advertising campaign that was launched
in early February 2006 was the only one that targeted parents
this year. There is concern that ongoing budget restrictions are
starting to produce a flattening out in the "perception of harm"
indicator among teens, which is widely understood as the best
predictor of future drug use.
The MTF study is the largest and most significant survey of
youth drug use and measures drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and
related attitudes among 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students
nationwide. Study participants report their drug use behaviors
across three time periods: lifetime, past year, and past month.
This year, 48,460 students from 410 public and private schools
participated in the survey. The survey is funded by the National
Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of HHS's National
Institutes of Health, and conducted since its inception by the
University of Michigan. Information from this study helps the
nation to identify potential drug problem areas and ensure that
resources are targeted to areas of greatest need.
The complete MTF study results can be viewed at
http://monitoringthefuture.org. For more information on the
ONDCP National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, visit