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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Monitoring the Future Study Shows Promising Findings

The University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study tracks trends in substance use among students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades. Every year, the study surveys 40,000 to 50,000 students in about 400 secondary schools in the United States. The use of alcohol, cigarettes, and a number of illicit drugs has declined among U.S. teens, according to a University of Michigan news release.



Alcohol:

The study found that the use of alcohol has been dropping over the years, hitting an all time low in 2014. What researchers call a statistically significant change, the combination of all three grades dropped from 43 percent to 41 percent in 2014. In 1997, researchers found that 22 percent of teens reported engaging in binge drinking, in 2014 only 12 percent of the three grades combined said they had binged in the last year.

"Since the recent peak rate of 61 percent in 1997, there has been a fairly steady downward march in alcohol use among adolescents," said Lloyd Johnston, the study's principal investigator. "The proportion of teens reporting any alcohol use in the prior year has fallen by about a third."

Cigarettes:

The use of cigarettes amongst adolescents hit an all time low in 2014, researchers found that only 8 percent of teens reported smoking. In 1997, the rate of teens smoking was found to be 28 percent.

"The importance of this major decline in smoking for the health and longevity of this generation of young people cannot be overstated," Johnston said.

Drugs:
  • The use of synthetic marijuana was down by nearly half.
  • The use of bath salts is down to 1 percent.
  • The use of Marijuana is down to 24 percent.
  • The use of Ecstasy (MDMA) is down to 2.2 percent.
  • The use of Salvia is down to 2 percent.
  • Prescription drug use is down to 14 percent.
  • Cough and cold medicine use is down to 3.2 percent.
  • The use of LSD and Psilocybin continues to drop, due to availability.
Unfortunately, the use of drugs like heroin and methamphetamine, as well as other illicit drugs remains relatively unchanged.

"In sum, there is a lot of good news in this year's results, but the problems of teen substance use and abuse are still far from going away," Johnston said. "We see a cyclical pattern in the 40 years of observations made with this study. When things are much improved is when the country is most likely to take its eye off the ball, as happened in the early 1990s, and fail to deter the incoming generation of young people from using drugs, including new drugs that inevitably come along."

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