Teen Drug Abuse Trends in 2000

The Monitoring the Future Study released teen drug abuse trends in 2000

Teen drug abuse overall remained unchanged from last year, according to the 26th annual Monitoring the Future Survey (MTF) released by the Department of Health and Human Services today.  The 2000 survey of drug use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders found that illicit drug use trends, 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 abuse 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 illic 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, then 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 teen drug use. 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 website to disseminate reliable, information that almost half a million people have visited," said Dr. Alan Leshner, then 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.

The Monitoring the Future teen drug abuse trends in 2000 can be compared to other trends found by more recent or later studies to get a comparison of the increase or decrease in teen drug abuse in recent years.