Monitoring the Future (MTF) is a nationally representative annual survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders conducted by the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Among the more important findings from this year’s Monitoring the Future survey of U.S. secondary school students are the following:
• Marijuana use among teens rose in 2011 for the fourth straight year which is a sharp contrast to the decline that had occurred in the preceding decade. Daily marijuana use is now at a 30-year peak level among high school seniors.
• “Synthetic marijuana,” which until earlier this year was legally sold and goes by such names as “K2” and “spice,” was added to the study in 2011. The study showed that one in every nine high school seniors (11.4%) reported using that drug in the prior 12 months.
• Monthly alcohol use, and, importantly, occasions of heavy drinking, continued a long-term gradual decline among teens.
• Energy drinks are being consumed by about one third of teens, with use highest among younger teens.
Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator of the MTF study
says, “Put another way, one in every fifteen high school seniors
today is smoking pot on a daily or near daily basis
and that’s the highest rate that we have seen over the past
thirty years—since 1981.”
The release of the MFT data each year in December is always interesting as it is the longest longitudinal study on the use of drugs and alcohol by teens. It is a very good indicator that helps to track trends and keep professionals aware of new challenges, threats and concerns so that there can be quick responses. Nationwide, this year’s results show a resurgence in the use of marijuana and a continued decrease in the downward trend of alcohol use. However, as informative as the
MTF is, it may not fully reflect what is going on with the teens in our county. Substance abuse professionals are reporting the same increases that are being reported nationally in the use of marijuana, but we are not seeing the same decline of alcohol use among our teens.
From Parenting for Prevention