"Among 12th graders, the highest noncontinuation rate is observed for inhalants (64%), followed by crystal methamphetamine (ice) (50%) and narcotics other than heroin (49%). Many inhalants are used primarily at a younger age, and use is often not continued into 12th grade. The rank ordering for noncontinuation of other drugs is as follows: tranquilizers, cigarettes, methamphetamine, cocaine other than crack, amphetamines, cocaine, sedatives (barbiturates), heroin, MDMA (ecstasy, Molly), hallucinogens, and steroids (all between 34% and 45%).
Monitoring The Future
"The perceived availability of cigarettes continued a long-term decline in 8th and 10th grade to historic low levels. After holding fairly steady at very high levels for some years, perceived availability reported by 8th and 10th graders began to decline modestly after 1996, very likely as a result of increased enforcement of laws prohibiting sale to minors under the Synar Amendment and FDA regulations. The proportion of 8th graders saying that they could get cigarettes fairly or very easily fell from 77% in 1996 to 56% in 2010, and was at 43% in 2019.
"Although availability of alcohol among 12th grade students is near its lowest level recorded since first measured in 1999, at 84% it is still very high.
"Marijuana has been the most consistently available illicit drug and has shown only small variations over the years (see Figure 9-5a). What is most noteworthy is how little change has occurred in the proportion of 12th graders who say that marijuana is fairly or very easy to get. By this measure, marijuana has been readily available to the great majority of American 12th graders (from 80% to 90%) since 1975.
" Figure 5-4a and Table 5-5d provide trends in daily marijuana use, defined as using marijuana on 20 or more occasions in the prior 30 days. Among 12th grade students, the 2019 level of 6.4% is the highest level recorded by the survey since 2013. About one in every 16 twelfth grade students in 2019 was a daily or near-daily marijuana user. Daily marijuana use significantly increased in 8th and 10th grade in 2019, to 1.3% and 4.8%, respectively.
"Overall, supply reduction—that is, reducing the availability of drugs—does not appear to have played as major a role as many had assumed in four of the five most important downturns in illicit drug use that have occurred to date, namely, those for marijuana, cocaine, crack, and ecstasy (see, for example, Figures 8-4, 8-5, and 8-6). The case of cocaine is particularly striking, as perceived availability actually rose during much of the period of downturn in use that began in the mid- 1980s.
"Inhalants rank second among the illicit drugs in lifetime prevalence for 8th graders (9.5%) and third for 10th graders (6.8%); but they rank eighth for 12th graders (5.3%). Inhalants also rank second-highest in 30-day prevalence among the illicit drugs for 8th graders (2.1%) and fourth (1.1%) among 10th graders, but they rank lower for 12th graders (0.9%). Note that the youngest respondents report the highest levels of use; this is the only class of drugs for which current use declines with age during adolescence.3"
" 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.
" Hispanics now have the highest annual prevalence for crack and cocaine at all three grade levels. The prevalence of cocaine for Hispanic students has tended to be high compared to the other two racial/ethnic groups, particularly in the lower grades. It bears repeating that Hispanics have a considerably higher dropout rate than Whites or African Americans, based on Census Bureau statistics, which should tend to diminish any such differences by 12th grade, yet there remain sizeable differences in the upper grades.
"For a number of years, 12th grade African-American students reported lifetime, annual, 30-day, and daily prevalence levels for nearly all drugs that were lower – sometimes dramatically so – than those for White or Hispanic 12th graders. That is less true today, with levels of drug use among African Americans more similar to the other groups. This narrowing of the gap between African Americans and other two racial/ethnic groups is also seen in 8th and 10th grade, indicating that this narrowing in 12th grade is almost certainly not due primarily to differential dropout rates.