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Youth Drug Statistics


  1. The Monitoring the Future survey reports that from 1996 through 2005 more than half of the students in the United States tried an illegal drug before they graduated from high school. In 2006, that figure dropped to 48.2% lifetime prevalence.
    Source: Johnston, L. D., P.M. O'Malley, J.G. Bachman & J.E. Schulenberg, Monitoring the Future National Results on Adolescent Drug Use: Overview of Key Findings 2006, (Washington, DC: NIDA, April 2007), Table 1, p. 47.
  2. In 2006, 5.0 percent of 12th graders reported daily use of marijuana, unchanged from the previous year. This compares with 6.0% in 1999 and 4.9% in 1996. Also in 2006, 25.4% of twelfth graders reported having had 5 or more drinks in a row in the last two weeks, compared with 27.1% the previous year. This compares with 30.8% in 1999 and 30.2% in 1996. And finally in 2006, 5.9% of twelfth graders reported smoking 1/2 pack or more of cigarettes daily, compared with 6.9% in 2005. This compares with 13.2% in 1999 and 13.0% in 1996.
    Source: Source: Johnston, L. D., P.M. O'Malley, J.G. Bachman & J.E. Schulenberg, Monitoring the Future National Results on Adolescent Drug Use: Overview of Key Findings 2006, (Washington, DC: NIDA, April 2007), Table 4, p. 59.
  3. "Since the study began in 1975, between 83% and 90% of every senior class have said that they could get marijuana fairly easily or very easily if they wanted some; therefore, it seems clear that this has remained a highly accessible drug. Since 1991, when data were also available for 8th and 10th graders, we have seen that marijuana is considerably less accessible to younger adolescents. Still, in 2006 two fifths of 8th graders (40%) and almost three quarters of all 10th graders (71%) reported it as being accessible. This compares to 85% for seniors."
    Source: Source: Johnston, L. D., P.M. O'Malley, J.G. Bachman & J.E. Schulenberg, Monitoring the Future National Results on Adolescent Drug Use: Overview of Key Findings 2006, (Washington, DC: NIDA, April 2007), p. 13.
  4. "Marijuana appears to be readily available to almost all 12th graders; in 2005 86% reported that they think it would be 'very easy' or 'fairly easy' for them to get it -- almost twice the number who reported ever having used it (45%).
    "After marijuana, 12th-grade students indicated that amphetamines are among the easiest drugs to obtain (51%)."
    Source: Source: Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E., Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2005: Volume I, Secondary school students (NIH Publication No. 06-5883) (Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse), August 2006, p. 401.
  5. "What is most noteworthy, however, is how little change has occurred in the proportion of 12th graders who say that marijuana is 'fairly' or 'very' easy to get. By this measure, marijuana has been almost universally available to American 12th graders (from 83% to 90%) over at least the past 31 years."
    Source: Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E., Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2005: Volume I, Secondary school students (NIH Publication No. 06-5883) (Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse), August 2006, p. 402.
  6. "Overall, it is important to note that supply reduction -- that is, reducing the availability of drugs -- does not appear to have played as major a role as many had assumed in three of the most important downturns in illicit drug use that have occurred to date, namely, those for marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy (see Figures 8-4, 8-5, and 8-6). In the case of cocaine, perceived availability actually rose during much of the period of the downturn in use. (These data are corroborated by data from the Drug Enforcement Administration on trends in the price and purity of cocaine on the streets.) In the case of marijuana, perceived availability has remained very high for 12th graders over the past 31 years, while use dropped substantially from 1979 through 1992. Perceived availability for ecstasy did increase in association with its increasing use in the 1990s, but the decline phase for use appears to have been driven much more by changing beliefs about the dangers of ecstasy than by any sharp downturn in availability. Similarly, amphetamine use declined appreciably from 1981 to 1992, with only a modest corresponding change in perceived availability. Finally, until 1995, heroin use had not risen among 12th graders even though availability had increased substantially."
    Source: Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E., Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2005: Volume I, Secondary school students (NIH Publication No. 06-5883) (Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse), August 2006, p. 407.
  7. "As shown in Table 8-8, three of every ten (30%) 12th graders in the Class of 2005 believed that marijuana use should be treated as a crime. Similar proportions thought it should be entirely legal (28%), and another 28% felt it should be treated as a minor violation -- like a parking ticket -- but not as a crime. (The remaining 15% said they 'don’t know.')
    "Asked whether they thought it should be legal to sell marijuana if it were legal to use it, just over half (54%) said 'yes.' However, about four fifths of those answering 'yes' (43% of all respondents) would permit the sale only to adults. A small minority (11%) favored the sale to anyone, regardless of age, while 32% said that sale should not be legal even if use were made legal, and 14% said they 'don’t know.'"
    Source: Source: Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E., Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2005: Volume I, Secondary school students (NIH Publication No. 06-5883) (Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse), August 2006, p. 354.
  8. "Most 12th graders felt that they would be little affected personally by the legalization of either the sale or the use of marijuana. Three fifths (60%) of the respondents said that they would not use the drug even if it were legal to buy and use, and another 17% indicated they would use it about as often as they do now or less often. Only 6.1% said they would use it more often than they do at present while another 8.9% thought they would try it. (Eight percent said they did not know how their behavior would be affected if marijuana were legalized.) Still, this amounts to 15% who state that their use would increase if marijuana were legalized."
    Source: Source: Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E., Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2005: Volume I, Secondary school students (NIH Publication No. 06-5883) (Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse), August 2006, p. 354.
  9. "A study of the effects of decriminalization by several states during the late 1970s found no evidence of any impact on the use of marijuana among young people, nor on attitudes and beliefs concerning its use. However, it should be noted that decriminalization falls well short of the full legalization posited in the questions here. Moreover, the situation today is very different than it was in the late 1970s, with much more peer disapproval and more rigorous enforcement of drug laws. More recent studies suggest that there may be an impact of decriminalization, such that 'youths living in decriminalized states are significantly more likely to report currently using marijuana.'"
    Source: Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E., Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2005: Volume I, Secondary school students (NIH Publication No. 06-5883) (Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse), August 2006, pp. 354-5.
  10. "Marijuana continues to be easier for teens to purchase than beer: 21 percent of teens ranked marijuana easiest to buy, compared to 14 percent for beer. As we have observed in the past, more teens rank cigarettes easiest to buy (28 percent) than the other substances. Eleven percent of teens say prescription drugs are easiest to buy."
    Source: QEV Analytics, "National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XI: Teens and Parents" (New York, NY: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, August 2006), p. 14.
  11. "Most teens who use alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana do so before they are 14. Among teens who have tried alcohol, tobacco or marijuana, the average age of first use is a little more than 12 for alcohol, 12½ for cigarettes, and 13 years 11 months for marijuana."
    Source: QEV Analytics, "National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse VIII: Teens and Parents" (New York, NY: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, August 2003), p. 2.
  12. "The US has higher rates of illicit drug use by young people than European nations, as noted by the Monitoring The Future survey: "The MTF study found that in 1999 41% of tenth grade students in the United States had used marijuana or cannabis at least once in their lifetimes. All the participating European countries had a considerably lower rate of lifetime use, averaging 17%. This proportion varied among European countries from 1% in Romania to a high of 35% in France, the United Kingdom, and the Czech Republic. The US also had one of the lowest proportions of students seeing marijuana use as carrying a risk of harm to the user, and one of the lowest proportions saying that they personally disapprove of marijuana use (pp. 345 and 348).... The US also had the highest rates of use of most of the other illicit drugs studied, as well as marijuana, with the important exception of heroin. These included amphetamines, hallucinogens, cocaine, crack, and ecstasy."
    Source: Johnston, Lloyd D., PhD, Patrick M. O'Malley, PhD, and Jerald G. Bachman, PhD, "Monitoring The Future: National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975-2000, Volume 1: Secondary School Students" (Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, August 2001), p. 363.
  13. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention estimated that in 2004 there were 193,900 arrests of juveniles for drug abuse violations out of a total 2,202,000 juvenile arrests. By comparison, there were 91,100 violent crime index offense arrests and 452,300 property crime index offense arrests of juveniles that year.
    Source: Snyder, Howard N., "Juvenile Arrests 2004" (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, March 2006), p. 3.

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