Study: Mixed Results in Teen Drug Use
Abuse of Illicit Drugs Drops, but Prescription Drug Abuse Still High
WebMD News Archive
Dec. 11, 2007 -- Drug use edged up in American 10th- and 12th-graders but
dropped in eighth-graders over the last year, according to data released by the
White House Tuesday.
About one in 14 eighth-graders said they'd used an illegal drug within the
last month, down 0.7% from 2006. At the same time, the number of 10th- and
12th-graders acknowledging drug use edged up since last year, according to the
annual study, called the Monitoring the Future Survey.
While the study shows a slowdown in progress against adolescent drug use,
trends in that use are down significantly since the peak in the late 1990s and
early 2000s. The White House pointed to a 24% reduction since 2001 in the
percentage of school kids who say they've taken illegal drugs in the past
That led the White House to declare near-victory on its drug reduction
In a White House speech, President Bush said his call to cut adolescent drug
use by 25% yielded "promising results."
"Because Americans took action, today there are an estimated 860,000
fewer children using drugs than six years ago," the president said during a
White House speech. Those reductions took six years, slightly longer than the
five years Bush had aimed for in early 2002.
Rx Problem Remains
The study shows that since 2002, teens have shown less interest
in nearly every major drug of abuse, including marijuana, methamphetamine, and
But policy makers remain concerned about OxyContin and other prescription narcotics, which have
not seen significant drops since 2002. Bush called the trend
In September, John P. Walters, director of the White House Office of
National Drug Control Policy, said continuing high abuse of prescription drugs
threatened to undermine progress against other drugs in both children and
"There has been during the five-year period an increase and a stubborn
resistance to decline by prescription drug abuse," Walters told reporters
Among the annual survey's other findings are:
- A significant drop in smoking by eighth-graders but no
drop by 10th- and 12th-graders since 2006. Fourteen percent of high school
sophomores and nearly 22% of seniors say they've smoked in the past month.
- A slight drop in drinking in all three grades, though nearly one-third of
seniors say they've been drunk in the past month.
- An uptick in ecstasy use. Slightly more seniors say they've used ecstasy
than said so last year, though overall numbers are half what they were in
In an interview, Lloyd Johnston, PhD, the study's lead author, attributed
dropping drug use trends to teens' stronger perception that drugs are
"When youngsters come to see a drug as more dangerous, they turn away
from it," said Johnston, PhD program director at the University of
Michigan's Institute for Social Research.