The 2016 Monitoring the Future (MTF) annual survey results released today from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reflect changing teen behaviors and choices in a social media-infused world. The results show a continued long-term decline in the use of many illicit substances, including marijuana, as well as alcohol, tobacco, and misuse of some prescription medications, among the nation’s teens.
 
 
The MTF survey measures drug use and attitudes among eighth, 10th, and 12th graders. 
 
The study's findings regarding alcohol include the following:
 
  • Past year use: More than half (55.6 percent) of 12th graders report having used alcohol in the past year, compared to the peak rate of about 75 percent in 1997. Thirty-eight percent of 10th graders and 17.6 percent of eighth graders report past year use, compared to the peaks of 65.3 percent in 2000 among 10th graders and 46.8 percent in 1994 among eighth graders.
     
  • Binge drinking: Among eighth graders, binge drinking (described as five or more drinks in a row in the last two weeks) continues to significantly decline, now at only 3.4 percent, the lowest rate since the survey began asking about it in 1991, down from a peak of 13.3 percent in 1996. Binge drinking among high school seniors is down to 15.5 percent, half its peak of 31.5 percent in 1998. 
     
  • Been drunk: Representing a long-term downward trend, 37.3 percent of 12th graders say they have been drunk in the past year; 20.5 percent of 10th graders say they have been drunk, down from a peak of 41.6 percent in 2000. Eighth graders reported a rate of 5.7 percent, down from a peak of 19.8 percent in 1996.
     
  • Attitudes: Just over 71 percent of 10th graders think it is easy to get alcohol, compared to last year’s rate of 74.9 percent, and down from 90.4 percent two decades ago.

 

MTF is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the NIH.  Overall, 45,473 students from 372 public and private schools participated in this year's MTF survey. Since 1975, the survey has measured drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes in 12th graders nationwide. Eighth and 10th graders were added to the survey in 1991.  

MTF is funded under grant number DA001411. Additional information on the MTF Survey, as well as comments from Dr. Volkow, can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/MTF.html. The University of Michigan press release can be found at http://monitoringthefuture.org.

 

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