ACHIEVING THE PRESIDENT’S GOALS FOR REDUCING
YOUTH DRUG USE
Results from the 2004 Monitoring the Future Study
This year’s results from the Monitoring the Future (MTF) study further consolidate the historic reductions observed in last year’s results. In 2003, current use of any illicit drug and marijuana current use each declined 11 percent—exceeding the President’s strategic goal of a 10 percent reduction in 2 years from the 2001 baseline. This year’s MTF results indicate that current use of any illicit drug has declined 17 percent since 2001, while current marijuana use has dropped 18 percent.
Highlights of findings from the 2004 MTF on youth use of illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco; changes in anti-drug attitudes; and the impact of anti-drug advertising include the following—all changes discussed here are statistically significant:
Changes Since 2001 in Substance Use Among Grades 8, 10, and 12 Combined
Use of any illicit drug in the past 30 days (current use) among students declined 17 percent, from 19.4 percent to 16.1 percent. Similar declines were seen for past year use (13%, from 31.8 % to 27.5 %) and lifetime use (11 %, from 41.0 % to 36.4 %).
As a result of these dramatic declines, approximately 600,000 fewer youth in 2004 are using illicit drugs than in 2001.
Marijuana use, the most commonly used illicit drug among youth and the drug of primary interest to the Media Campaign, also declined significantly. Current use declined 18 percent, from 16.6 percent to 13.6 percent; past year use declined 14 percent, from 27.5 percent to 23.7 percent; and lifetime use declined 11 percent, from 35.3 to 31.3 percent.
Declines in youth drug use were not limited to these two categories. The use among youth of many of the most commonly used classes of substances are in decline, including LSD, MDMA (ecstasy), amphetamines, methamphetamine, steroids, alcohol, and cigarettes.
The use among youth of the hallucinogens LSD and ecstasy among youth has plummeted. Lifetime use of LSD fell 55 percent (from 6.6% to 3.0%) and past year and current use each dropped by nearly two-thirds (from 4.1% to 1.6% and 1.5% to 0.6%, respectively).
Lifetime use of ecstasy dropped 41 percent, from 7.4 percent to 4.4 percent. Past year and current use were each cut by more than half (from 5.5% to 2.5% and 2.3% to 0.9%).
Use of amphetamines, traditionally the second most commonly used illicit drug among youth, also dropped over the past two years. Lifetime use declined 20 percent, from 13.9 percent to 11.2 percent. Past year use fell 21 percent (from 9.6% to 7.6%) while current use fell 24% percent (from 4.7% to 3.6%).
Lifetime, past year and current use of methamphetamine among youth declined by 25 percent each — from 5.8 percent to 4.5 percent, 3.4 percent to 2.6 percent, and 1.4 percent to 1.1 percent, respectively.
Lifetime and annual use of steroids dropped 28 percent and 23 percent, respectively (from 3.2% to 2.3% and from 1.9% to 1.5%).
The use of alcohol, the most commonly used substance among youth, also declined.
Lifetime, past year and current use each declined by 8 percent (from 65.7% to 60.5%, 58.4% to 54.0%, and 35.7% to 32.9%, respectively). However, there was little improvement in these measures between 2003 and 2004. Reports of having been drunk in the past two weeks declined between 10 and 12 percent in each of the three prevalence categories.
Cigarette smoking among youth continued to decline. Lifetime and current use each dropped 20 percent (from 49.1% to 39.5% and 20.3% to 16.1%, respectively). However, there was little improvement in these measures between 2003 and 2004.
MTF began collecting data on the non-medical use of Oxycontin in 2002. In 2004 there was a 24 percent increase in past year use of Oxycontin for all three grades combined compared to 2002, from 2.7 percent to 3.3 percent.
Changes From Last Year in Substance Use among Grades 8, 10, and 12
MTF collects data from three specific grades: 8th, 10th and 12th graders. There were no statistically significant changes between 2003 and 2004 found for any grade in lifetime, past year, and past month use of hallucinogens in general; hallucinogens other than LSD; cocaine in general; crack cocaine; amphetamines; tranquilizers; heroin and other narcotics; and being drunk. Additionally, there were no statistically significant changes for any grade in lifetime or past year use of Oxycontin, Vicodin, or Ritalin and past year and past month use of alcohol. The following statistically significant differences were found:
Among 8th graders:
Any illicit drug use in the past month declined 13 percent, from 9.7 percent to 8.4 percent.
Marijuana/hashish use in the past month declined 15 percent, from 7.5 percent to 6.4 percent.
Lifetime inhalant use increased 9 percent, from 15.8 percent to 17.3 percent.
Lifetime, past year, and past month use of methamphetamine declined 36 percent (from 3.9%to 2.5 percent), 40 percent (from 2.5%to 1.5%), and 50 percent (from 1.2% to 0.6), respectively.
Lifetime and past year use of steroids declined 24 percent and 21 percent, respectively (from 2.5% to 1.9% and from 1.4% to 1.1%).
Among 10th graders:
Lifetime use of MDMA (ecstasy) declined 20 percent, from 5.4 percent to 4.3 percent.
Past month use of powder cocaine increased 36 percent, from 1.1 percent to 1.5 percent.
Past year use of GHB declined 43 percent, from 1.4 percent to 0.8 percent and past year use of Ketamine declined 32 percent, from 1.9 percent to 1.3 percent.
Lifetime use of steroids dropped 20 percent, from 3.0 percent to 2.4 percent.
The only decline in 2004 of cigarette use occurred among 10th graders. Lifetime cigarette use declined 5 percent, from 43.0 percent to 40.7 percent, and smoking half a pack or more per day declined 20 percent, from 4.1 percent to 3.3 percent.
Among 12th graders:
Lifetime use of LSD declined 22 percent, from 5.9 percent to 4.6 percent.
There were no statistically significant changes found in each grade from last year in lifetime, past year, and past month use of hallucinogens in general; hallucinogens other than LSD; cocaine in general; crack cocaine; amphetamines; tranquilizers; heroin and other narcotics; lifetime, past year and past month use of alcohol; and being drunk.
A key aim of the Media Campaign is to improve youth anti-drug attitudes and perceptions; these changes are thought to be precursors to positive behavior change. We have seen improvements among youth in the perception of the harmfulness of using drugs and disapproval of people who use them, particularly for marijuana. Statistically significant changes include the following:
Among 8th graders, both the perception of the harmfulness of trying marijuana once or twice and smoking it regularly improved from the previous year, by 6 percent and 3 percent, respectively. Perceived harmfulness of smoking one or more packs of cigarettes a day also improved significantly from the previous year, by 8 percent. The levels of these measures in 2004 are the highest they have been since 1993.
Among 10th graders, perceived harmfulness of trying MDMA (ecstasy) once or twice increased by 4 percent, while perceived harmfulness of smoking one or more packs of cigarettes per day increased by 4 percent as well. While the increases from the previous year in all other measures of perceived harmfulness were not statistically significant, the 2004 levels are the highest they have been in recent years.
Among 12th graders, perceived harmfulness of taking heroin regularly declined by 3 percent, while perceived harmfulness of taking heroin occasionally without using a needle and taking one or two drinks nearly every day increased, by 4 percent and 14 percent, respectively. There were no other statistically significant changes in perceived harmfulness among 12th graders.
Among 8th graders, disapproval of people who try marijuana once or twice increased by 3 percent from the previous year, as did disapproval of people who smoke marijuana occasionally and those who take LSD regularly, increasing by 2 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
Among 10th graders, disapproval of people who smoke marijuana occasionally increased by 4 percent; those who smoke marijuana regularly increased by 3 percent, those who try inhalants regularly increased by 1 percent, and those who try MDMA once or twice increased by 3 percent.
As with perceptions of harm, the 2004 levels of disapproval are the highest they have been since 1993 (8th graders) and 1994 (10th graders).
Impact of Anti-Drug Advertising
Exposure to anti-drug advertising (of which, the Media Campaign is the major contributor) has had an impact on improving youth anti-drug attitudes and intentions. Among all three grades, such ads have made youth to a “great extent” or “very great extent” less favorable toward drugs and less likely to use them in the future over the course of the Media Campaign (i.e., since 1998). However, more than half of the increase in most of these outcomes among all three grades has occurred in the past three years. This is particularly striking among 10th graders, the primary target audience of the Media Campaign.
Source: ONDCP, USA, December 21, 2004.