(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) — A national survey of U.S. middle and high school students showed significant improvement in the levels of adolescent substance abuse.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Monitoring the Future Survey, an annual poll of more than 40,000 students, both alcohol and cigarette use among middle and high school students are at their lowest points since the survey began in 1975.
The survey looks at students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades. In each of those three grades, alcohol use continued a long-term decline, the study found. Use of alcohol peaked in 1997 when 61 percent of students surveyed reported any alcohol use in the 12 months prior. This year’s figure was just 41 percent, down from 43 percent last year.
Significantly, the percentage of students who report “binge drinking” — drinking five or more drinks in a row at least once in the two weeks before the survey — fell to 12 percent.
Cigarette smoking reached historic lows as well, with the combined rate of students surveyed from all three grades who had smoked in the month prior to the survey dropping to 28 percent.
The study’s principal investigator Lloyd Johnston said that the importance of a decline in smoking among adolescents “cannot be overstated.”
The percentage of students who said that alcohol or cigarettes were more difficult to acquire increased from last year’s survey.
The survey also noted that student use of synthetic marijuana, bath salts, marijuana, ecstasy, salvia, hallucinogens, prescription drugs, narcotics and cough and cold medicines all declined from last year.
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