Personal Disapproval of Drug Use Among 12th Graders in the US

"• The majority of 12th graders disapprove of regular use of any of the illicit drugs (see Table 8-6). Among 12th graders in 2019, 63% disapprove (including strongly disapprove) of regular marijuana use and between 91% and 97% disapprove of regular use of each of the other illicit drugs.

"• For each of the drugs included in this set of questions, fewer respondents indicate disapproval of experimental or occasional use than of regular use. However, the differences are not great for the use of illicit drugs other than marijuana, because nearly all 12th graders disapprove of even experimenting with them. For example, the proportions disapproving of experimental use are 96% for heroin, 89% for cocaine, 89% for crack, 86% for sedatives (barbiturates), 86% for cocaine powder, 76% for LSD, and 90% for MDMA (ecstasy, Molly). The extent of disapproval of illicit drug use by peers is no doubt underestimated by adolescents and, as we have written for some time, the extent of disapproval that actually does exist could be widely publicized and provide the basis for some potentially powerful prevention messages in the form of normative education.14

"• Disapproval of marijuana by 12th graders increases substantially for higher levels of use. The percentage who disapprove of marijuana use is 34% for trying it once or twice, 41% for occasional use, and 63% for regular use. Looked at another way, fewer than four out of ten 12th graders (37%) say they do not disapprove of regular marijuana use.

"• Smoking a pack (or more) of cigarettes per day now meets with disapproval by about eight out of nine (88%) 12th grade students – a level comparable to the level of disapproval for many of the illicit drugs and substantially higher than disapproval of regular marijuana use.

"• Vaping nicotine has the second lowest disapproval level for regular use for any drug among 12th grade students. Its level of 70% is second only to regular marijuana use (at 63%). The use of nicotine vaping as a smoking cessation aid among some adults likely lowers levels of disapproval among 12th graders.

"Levels of disapproval for JUUL use are almost identical to those for nicotine vaping, suggesting that 12th grade students see the two as synonymous.

"• Having one or two drinks nearly every day meets with the disapproval of 73% of 12th graders. Curiously, almost the same percentage of 12th graders (75%) disapprove of weekend binge drinking (five or more drinks once or twice each weekend), despite the fact that twice as many of them see a great risk in weekend binge drinking (46%) than in having one or two drinks nearly every day (21%)."


Miech, R. A., Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E., & Patrick, M. E. (2020). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2019: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan.