Whether it’s because of the ongoing pandemic or the states that legalized cannabis in the past few years, a recent survey reports that illicit substance use in teens is dropping far more than it ever has.
The Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey has measured drug and alcohol use and related attitudes among teenagers and students throughout the nation since 1975.
Survey participants throughout the nation are asked to report their drug use behaviors across three time periods: lifetime, past year, and past month. The study is conducted by the University of Michigan and is funded by the NIDA, a National Institute of Health component.
According to the latest results of the Monitoring the Future survey, the percentage of adolescents reporting substance use decreased significantly in 2021. The survey examined substance use behaviors and related attitudes in 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in the nation.
Photo by Detroit Metro Times
Although there have been many long-term declines in the use of several illicit substances among adolescents by the Monitoring the Future survey, the latest findings show the largest one-year decrease in all illicit drug use reported since the survey began compiling data in 1975.
The 2021 MTF survey saw significant decreases in use across many substances but focussed on those most commonly used in adolescents, including alcohol, marijuana, and vaped nicotine. In 2017, the use of vaping marijuana and nicotine saw a sharp increase, and again in 2019, leveling off in 2020 as the pandemic struck.
In 2021, those who had never used marijuana in the 12th grade fell by 12% this year compared to 2020, marking a 39% fall. In the 10th grade, that number fell 34% from the previous year, a 22% decrease. Similarly, in the 8th grade, the drop was 31%, down 20% from 2020.
Photo by Erik S
One could argue that a lack of freedom might keep teens from accessing substances like alcohol, marijuana, and vaped nicotine. Most individuals living with a parent/guardian need a viable excuse to leave the house and get together with friends during these times with the COVID-19 pandemic.
That said, five states legalized recreational cannabis in 2020.; these states were New Jersey, Vermont, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota. As of November 2020, 15 U.S. states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational weed in the U.S.
Another 35 states have also legalized marijuana for medical uses.
Now that legalization is continuing to gain more traction throughout the country, it’s resulting in less illicit drug use in teens, demonstrated by the recent MTF survey.