Skip to comments.Drug use by teenagers declines, continues its decline
Posted on 12/23/2003 9:58:02 PM PST by bdeaner
WASHINGTON (AP) - American teenagers are cutting back on their use of illicit drugs and cigarettes, but alcohol consumption is holding steady, the government says.
An annual survey of eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders done for the Department of Health and Human Services, found declines in many kinds of drugs for high school students, especially for Ecstasy and LSD.
Overall, the Bush administration said the annual survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed an 11 percent drop in illegal drug use in the past two years, slightly surpassing President Bush's goal of a 10 percent reduction during that period.
The survey, known as Monitoring the Future, tracked drug use and attitudes among 48,500 students from 392 schools.
There was one troubling sign: slowing declines in the use of certain drugs by eighth graders - and a slight increase in their use of inhalants, said Lloyd D. Johnston, who directed the study by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.
``We should take this as a little warning because eighth graders have been indicative of things to come in the past,'' Johnston said.
In addition, there was an overall increase in the illicit use of the synthetic painkillers OxyContin and vicodin, reflective of patterns seen in the general population.
The survey showed a different picture of drug use from another poll of teens that also is used to measure the effectiveness of White House drug control policy. A private study by Pride Surveys in September showed illegal drug use and cigarette smoking among sixth- through 12th-graders increased slightly during the last school year compared with the year before.
But both surveys agreed that marijuana remains by far the most widely used illegal drug. Monitoring the Future reported that it had been tried at least once by 46 percent of 12th graders and used by more than a third in the past year. Both numbers showed a decrease over last year.
``More kids are seeking treatment for marijuana dependency than all other drugs combined,'' John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said at a news conference. Walters added that in 15 cities, surveys have found that more teens smoke marijuana than regular cigarettes.
However, he said the results were encouraging.
``This survey shows that when we push back against the drug problem, it gets smaller,'' Walters said.
Johnston and administration officials offered differing explanations for the decline in use of Ecstasy and LSD.
Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is a synthetic drug considered part hallucinogen and part amphetamine. The drug became popular at dance parties because of the energy and euphoria it gave to users, but it has harmful side effects. It can lead to brain, heart and kidney damage.
Johnston said teens now are more aware about the risks of Ecstasy.
The reduced availability of LSD, following the breakup in 2000 of a lab that produced large quantities of the drug, accounted for the drop in its use, said Karen Tandy, administrator of the drug enforcement administration. The use of LSD is at its lowest level since the federal government began a survey of teen-age drug use 30 years ago.
LSD, known as acid, can cause hallucinations and delusions.
The percentage of teens who smoke cigarettes has fallen dramatically from the mid-1990s, the result of advertising campaigns and the rise in cigarette prices.
But the survey showed that, among 8th- and 10th-graders, the decline slowed significantly.
William V. Corr, executive director of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the numbers reflect a ``lack of federal leadership on tobacco prevention'' and decisions by cash-strapped states to cut their prevention program.
Johnston, the study's director, said that despite progress in keeping teens from smoking, ``one-quarter of our kids, by the end of high school, are smoking cigarettes.''
On the Net:
White House Office of National Drug Control: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov
Monitoring the Future: http://monitoringthefuture.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Eleven Percent Reduction Exceeds President's Two-Year Goal
HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and John P. Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, today released results of the 2003 Monitoring the Future survey, showing an 11 percent decline in drug use by 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students over the past two years. The finding translates into 400,000 fewer teen drug users over two years.
When President Bush released his first National Drug Control Strategy in February 2002, he set aggressive national goals to reduce youth drug use by 10 percent in two years and 25 percent in five years. Today's release of the 2003 Monitoring the Future Study confirms that President Bush's two-year goal has been exceeded. Current use (past 30 days) of any illicit drug between 2001 and 2003 among students declined 11 percent, from 19.4 percent to 17.3 percent. Similar declines were seen for past year use (11 percent, from 31.8 percent to 28.3 percent) and lifetime use (9 percent, from 41 percent to 37.4 percent).
"Teen drug use has reached a level that we haven't seen in nearly a decade," Director Walters said. "This survey shows that when we push back against the drug problem, it gets smaller. Fewer teens are using drugs because of the deliberate and serious messages they have received about the dangers of drugs from their parents, leaders, and prevention efforts like our National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. Having fewer youth use drugs is important because we know that if young people can abstain from drugs before they graduate from high school, they are much less likely to use and have problems with them later."
"This survey offers promising signs that more children and young adults are steering clear of illegal drugs," Secretary Thompson said. "Monitoring the Future confirms that prevention efforts by federal agencies, states, communities and our many partners in the private and volunteer sectors are having the desired effect. We are pleased to have exceeded the President's two-year goal and look forward to a continued and needed reduction in drug use in the coming years. We must now lengthen our stride as we seek to reach the young people who are still putting their health and futures at risk."
Use of marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug among youth, declined significantly. Current use declined 11 percent, from 16.6 percent to 14.8 percent; past year use also declined 11 percent, from 27.5 percent to 24.5 percent; and lifetime use declined 8.2 percent, from 35.3 to 32.4 percent. The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, a comprehensive federal effort to provide drug prevention messages to America's children, was reworked in 2002 to produce harder-hitting ads that have focused on the harms of marijuana.
Of the 7.1 million Americans that need drug treatment -- 19 percent of which are teenagers -- over 60 percent need treatment for marijuana. The Media Campaign has been a powerful tool in this effort to educate Americans, particularly teens, on the serious threat marijuana poses.
In addition to measuring usage rates, Monitoring the Future also measures student attitudes about drugs. Among all three grades, the perceived risk of using marijuana increased markedly. Exposure to anti-drug advertising (of which, the Media Campaign is the major contributor) has had an effect on improving youth anti-drug attitudes and intentions, Director Walters said. In the Monitoring survey, youth attitudes among all three grades are found to be to a "great extent" or "very great extent" less favorable toward drugs, and students say the ads they have seen make them less likely to use drugs in the future. The increase in negative attitudes toward drug use corresponds with the course of the Media Campaign, launched in 1998. More than half of the increase in these outcomes among all three grades has occurred in the past two years. This is particularly striking among 10th graders, the primary target audience of the Media Campaign.
Monitoring the Future also showed significant declines in the use of other drugs. The use of LSD and ecstasy among youth has plummeted. Lifetime use of LSD fell 43 percent between 2001 and 2003 (from 6.6 percent to 3.7 percent) and past year and current use each dropped by nearly two-thirds (from 4.1 percent to 1.6 percent and 1.5 percent to 0.6 percent, respectively). Lifetime use of ecstasy dropped 32 percent, from 8.0 percent to 5.5 percent. Past year and current use were each cut in half (from 6.1 percent to 3.1 percent and 2.4 percent to 1.1 percent).
"The overall reduction in drug use by America's young people is heartening," said National Institute of Drug Abuse Director, Dr. Nora Volkow. "We are confident that our concerted effort to provide students and teachers with informative, accurate information about addiction and drug abuse will contribute to further reductions in drug use."
"Monitoring the Future has been tracking substance use and related attitudes among American teenagers for nearly 30 years," states Lloyd Johnston, the study's lead researcher. "Because its methods have been scientifically rigorous, and intentionally held constant across time, its results have proven to be quite accurate and reliable."
In addition, lifetime and current use of cigarettes declined among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders between 2001 and 2003. Lifetime alcohol use by all three grades also declined over the past two years, suggesting that teens do not trade one intoxicating substance for another.
The Monitoring the Future survey is designed to measure drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes among adolescent students nationwide. Survey participants report their drug use behaviors across three time periods: lifetime, past year, and past month. Overall, 48,467 students from 392 public and private schools in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades participated in this year's survey. The survey is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of HHS' National Institutes of Health, and conducted since its inception by the University of Michigan. Information from this survey helps the nation to identify potential drug problem areas and ensure that resources are targeted to areas of greatest need.
Monitoring the Future is one of three major HHS-sponsored surveys that provide data on substance use among youth. The Web site is http://monitoringthefuture.org.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), sponsored by HHS' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is the primary source of statistical information on illicit drug use in the U.S. population 12 years of age and older. Formerly known as the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, the survey collects data in household interviews, currently using computer-assisted self-administration for drug-related items. More information is available at http://www.drugabusestatistics.samhsa.gov.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), part of HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, is a school survey that collects data from students in grades 9-12. The survey includes questions on a wide variety of health-related risk behaviors, not simply drug abuse. More information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/yrbs/index.htm.
More information on Monitoring the Future can be found at http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov.
I couldn't agree more. I am a single dad with 2 teenage boys, and very involved in my kids lives. I have 3 older children so I have a generational perspective as well.
Unequivocally, the children of today are increasingly more conservative, suspicious of most of the contemporary dogma, and dismissive of attitudes and conclusions being taught by adults. In short, many more children of today just don't trust their parents or their teachers.
My observations of the parents that I interact with, and these are the active, mostly stay-at-home-types, and the teachers that I observe up close and personal, is that the kids have a point!
The Monitoring the Future (MTF) project, begun in 1975, has many purposes. Among them is to study changes in the beliefs, attitudes, and behavior of young people in the United States. In recent years, the U.S. has experienced tremendous changes in public opinion toward such diverse issues as government and politics, alcohol and other drug use, gender roles, and protection of the environment. Much of our current upheaval in attitudes is especially concentrated, and often first seen, in today's youth. This study focuses on youth because of their significant involvement in today's social changes and, most important, because youth in a very literal sense will constitute our future society.
The results of the study are useful to policymakers at all levels of government, for example, to monitor progress toward national health goals. Study results are also used to monitor trends in substance use and abuse among adolescents and young adults and are used routinely in the White House Strategy on Drug Abuse.
The Monitoring the Future (MTF) project, also widely known for some years as the National High School Senior Survey, is a repeated series of surveys in which the same segments of the population (8th, 10th, and 12th graders; college students; and young adults) are presented with the same set of questions over a period of years to see how answers change over time.
The project has been conducted under a series of research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a part of the National Institutes of Health. Surveys have been carried out each year since 1975 by the University of Michigan Survey Research Center. MTF respondents are 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students who participate by completing self-administered, machine-readable questionnaires in their normal classrooms, administered by University personnel.
The survey began with senior classes in 1975, and each year about 16,000 students in approximately 133 public and private high schools nationwide participate. Beginning in 1991, similar surveys of nationally representative samples of 8th and 10th graders have been conducted annually; the 8th-grade samples contain about 18,000 students in about 150 schools, and the 10th-grade samples contain about 17,000 students in about 140 schools. In all, approximately 50,000 students in about 420 public and private secondary schools are surveyed annually.
Beginning with the class of 1976, a randomly selected sample from each senior class has been followed up biannually after high school on a continuing basis. These respondents receive a mail questionnaire at their home, which they complete and return to MTF.
The study's design permits the investigators to examine four kinds of change:
The data from students are collected during the spring of each year. Each year's data collection takes place in approximately 420 public and private high schools and middle schools selected to provide an accurate representative cross section of students throughout the coterminous United States at each grade level.
A multi-stage random sampling procedure is used for securing the nationwide sample of students each year at each grade level.
Within each school, up to 350 students may be included. In schools with fewer students, the usual procedure is to include all of them in the data collection. In larger schools, a subset of students is selected either by randomly sampling entire classrooms or by some other random method that is judged to be unbaised. Sampling weights are used when the data are analyzed to correct for unequal probabilities of selection that occurred at any stage of sampling.
About 10 days before the in-school administration, the students are given flyers explaining the study. Also, advance letters to parents inform them about the study and provide them a handy means for declining their child's participation if they so desire. The actual questionnaire administrations are conducted by the local Institute for Social Research representatives and their assistants, following standardized procedures detailed in a project instruction manual. The questionnaires are group administered in classrooms during a normal class period whenever possible; however, circumstances in some schools require the use of larger group administrations.
The follow-up questionnaires are mailed to respondents with a return, self-addressed, stamped envelope and a small monetary gift of $10 from the University of Michigan as a token of appreciation.
Johnston, L. D., O'Malley, P. M., & Bachman, J. G. (December 19, 2003). Ecstasy use falls for second year in a row, overall teen drug use drops. University of Michigan News and Information Services: Ann Arbor, MI. [On-line]. Available: www.monitoringthefuture.org; accessed MM/DD/YY.
Trends in Attitudes - Tables 8 - 11
Trends in Availability - Tables 12 & 13
MDMA (Ecstasy) - Figure 1
Various Illicit Drugs - Figure 2
Specific Drugs - Figures 3 - 13
Trends on Cigarette Smoking - Tables 1 - 4
Trends on Use of Smokeless Tobacco - Tables 5 - 8
Trends in Prevalence, Attitudes, and Availability
Most of the middle class parents and teachers in todays society are socially liberal, and former 60's hippies. They have selfish, noncustodial attitudes toward the kids. The children are mostly on their own, and have observed the adults in their lives and decided they are at least as smart as their parents and teachers.. Sadly many of them are.
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