top of page

Teen Drug Use Remains Below Pre-Pandemic Levels, According to University of Michigan Study

Updated: Jan 18

The latest findings from the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey show that illicit substance use among adolescents continues to remain below pre-pandemic levels reported in 2020. Findings show that 10.9% of 8th graders, 19.8% of 10th graders, and 31.2% of 12th graders reported using illicit substances use in 2023. Alcohol use also remained steady among 8th and 10th graders, with 15.1% and 30.6% respectively reporting drinking alcohol in the past year. Conversely, there was a decrease in alcohol use among 12th graders, with 45.7% reporting usage in the past year, compared to 51.9% in 2022.   

“Research has shown that delaying the start of substance use among young people, even by one year, can decrease substance use for the rest of their lives. We may be seeing this play out in real time,” shared NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow in a press release. “This trend is reassuring. Though, it remains crucial to continue to educate young people about the risks and harms of substance use in an open and honest way, emphasizing that illicit pills and other substances may contain deadly fentanyl.”

The MTF study is led by researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The annual national surveys focus on substance use patterns among both the youth and adults in the United States and provide critical insight into the prevalence, trends, attitudes, and perceived risk. Respondents include 8th, 10th, and 12th graders who participate by completing self-reported questionnaires on their substance use behaviors over the past 30 days, past 12 months, and throughout their lifetime. The students self-report their substance use, perception of harm, disapproval of use, and perceived availability of the substance. Findings from this study were published in the MTF National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975-2023: Secondary School Students.

Key Findings: 

  • The percentage of students reporting abstaining from substance use in the past month increased since 2022: 70% of 8th graders, 54.4% of 10th graders, and 37.5% of 12th graders reported abstaining from substance use, compared to 67.1%, 48.8%, and 31% respectively.  

  • The percentage of students reporting lifetime smoking is beginning to trend downwards at under 5% for cigarette use

  • Significant decreases in MDMA, LSD, Amphetamines, Heroin, and Prescription drugs.

  • 10th graders experienced an increase in perceived availability of crack and cocaine powder in 2023 (an increase of about 0.4%).

  • Eighth graders and 10th graders experienced a significant decrease in their perceived risk of LSD of about 4%

  • 10th and 12th graders reported higher perceived disapproval and perceived risk for vape nicotine use regularly (~5% higher than in 2022)

  • The percentage of students reporting abstaining behaviors from substance use in the past month for grades 8, 10, and 12 has increased since pre-pandemic levels to about 60% of 12th graders, 75% of 10th graders, and 90% of 8th graders, respectively. 

To read the full report, click here. To view trends in the last 12 months drug use prevalence, click here


bottom of page