There has been remarkable decline in the levels of substance use among students in the US middle schools and high schools, according to researchers at University of Michigan. The national survey, 'Monitoring the Future', has revealed that both alcohol and cigarette use in 2014 are at their lowest points since the study began in 1975. Also, use of a number of illicit drugs also show declines this year. Personal disapproval of use and reported unavailability explain the modest decline in use this year.
This national study tracks trends in substance use among students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades over the past one year. It is now in its 40th year and surveys 40,000 to 50,000 students in about 400 secondary schools throughout the United States.
Alcohol use by the by the nation's teen dropped from 43 percent to 41 percent in 2014. Binge drinking also fell significantly again this year to 12 percent for the three grades combined. Peer disapproval and decline in availability may be the contributing factors to the drops in teen drinking.
Cigarette smoking in the prior month has dropped down to 8 percent in 2014. There has been a substantial reduction in the proportion of students who say cigarettes are easy for them to get. Increased perception that smoking carries a 'great risk' for the user has decreased its' use.
A number of measures of illicit drug use declined this year. The greatest decline was in students' use of synthetic marijuana ((K-2, "Spice"), sold over the counter in many states. Its' use has dropped down to 6% in 2014. Use of 'Bath Salts', another class of synthetic drugs sold over-the-counter, also has declined to less than 1 percent use. Marijuana use declined slightly in 2014. Ecstasy (MDMA) use showed a statistically significant decline from 2.8 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2014. Salvia, another drug used for its hallucinogenic properties, has fallen to quite low levels of use in 2014. Use of hallucinogens other than LSD is continuing a longer-term decline.
Principal investigator of the study, Lloyd Johnston said, "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. 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."