Researchers studying trends in drug and alcohol use in young people noted
that alcohol use has declined significantly among eighth graders since peaks
in 1996. Smaller declines were also noted for older students over that time
period. Last year, nearly all measures of drinking declined slightly for all
According to the 2006 Monitoring the Future Study, 24.5 percent of eighth
graders used alcohol during the month in 1996 preceding the survey. As of last
year, just 17.2 percent did. As for 12th graders, more than half (52.7)
reported past-month alcohol use in 1996, and that number was 45.3 percent last
year. About 40.4 percent of 10th graders reported past-month alcohol use in
1996 compared with 33.8 percent last year.
The Monitoring the Future study is conducted annually by researchers at the
University of Michigan among a representative nationwide sample of about
48,500 eighth, 10th, and 12th graders. The National Institute on Drug Abuse
(NIDA) funds the study, which it uses to measure trends in the use of drugs,
alcohol, and tobacco by young people (see article at left).
In addition to questions about alcohol use, researchers also asked about
past-month drunkenness. They found little change. In 2006, about 6 percent of
eighth graders, 19 percent of 10th graders, and 30 percent of 12th graders
reported being drunk at least once during the prior month, about the same as
Also, after a decade of steady decline, daily smoking rates stopped
declining in 2006 among students at all grade levels. Since the mid-1990s,
daily smoking rates have fallen by half among 12th graders and by more than
half among eighth and 10th graders. For instance, in 1997, 24.6 percent of
seniors reported smoking daily, compared with just 12.2 percent last year.
Government officials attributed past decade declines to antismoking
"We have seen dramatic decreases in smoking," said NIDA
Director Nora Volkow, M.D., who spoke at a press conference announcing the
findings in Washington, D.C., in December 2006. "The consequences have
been a significant reduction in mortality from cigarette smoking."
She added that before trying drugs, most young people start using
cigarettes. "This is why it is so important to reduce smoking
Results of the 2006 Monitoring the Future Survey are posted at<http://monitoringthefuture.org/>.