Alcohol and illicit drug use are common in the life experience for American youth with about 50% having tried an illicit drug. Age twelve to thirteen has been identified as pivotal for a teen’s exposure to and formation of an attitude toward drugs. Consequently, drug resistance programs are implemented at a younger age and trends are tracked from eighth grade through senior year of high school. The 2018 Monitoring The Future annual adolescent survey tracks the substance use experience of American youth. The 2018 cohort includes 44,500 students in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades enrolled in 392 secondary schools nationwide.
Increases in adolescent vaping from 2017 to 2018 were the largest ever recorded in the past 43 years for any adolescent substance use outcome in the U.S. The percentage of 12th grade students who reported vaping nicotine in the past 30 days nearly doubled, rising from 11% to 21%. This ten percentage point increase is twice as large as the previous record for largest-ever increase among past 30-day outcomes in 12th grade. As a result of the increase, one in five 12th grade students vaped nicotine in the last 30 days in 2018 (Miech 2019).
2018 - Percent of 8th Graders, 10th Graders, and 12th Graders Reporting Substance Use
|Past Mo.||Lifetime||Past Mo.||Lifetime||Past Mo.||Lifetime|
|Any illicit drug||7.30%||18.70%||18.30%||36.30%||24.00%||47.80%|
|Cigarettes||2.20 %||9.10%||4.20 %||16.00%||7.60%||23.80%|
The annual use of "Any illicit drug", tends to be driven by marijuana—by far the most prevalent of the illicit drugs—also rose nonsignificantly in grades 8 and 10, but declined nonsignificantly in 12th grade. Change in 2018 for the three grades combined also did not reach significance. Since 2006 there has been rather little systematic change in this index.
Miech, R., Johnston, L. D., & O'Malley, P. M. & Terry-McElrath, Y. (2019). The national prevalence of adolescent nicotine use in 2017: Estimates taking into account student reports of substances vaped. Addictive Behaviors Reports
Miech, R. A., Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E., & Patrick, M. E. (2019). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2018: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan.