The annual monitoring the future survey found that about 7% decline of any illegal drug use in the last month by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders combined from 2003 to 2004, according to a Dec 21, 2004, news release from the US Department of Health and Human Services. The Monitoring the Future survey measures drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes among eighth-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students nationwide. Survey participants report their drug use behaviors for three time periods--lifetime, past year, and past month. In 2004, 49,474 students from 406 public and private schools participated in the survey.

Teen Drug Use is declining

The positive findings comparing 2004 to 2003 related to individual drugs show that the past-month use of marijuana declined significantly among eighth graders; steroid lifetime use decreased among eighth and 10th graders; past-year steroid use decreased for eighth graders; lifetime use of lysergic acid diethylamide (ie, LSD) decreased significantly among 12th graders; there was a significant increase in the perception of harm from cigarette smoking among eighth and 10th graders; methamphetamine use in the past month, past year, and lifetime decreased among eighth graders; and past-year use of gamma hydroxybutyrate (ie, GHB) and ketamine declined among 10th graders. Lifetime cigarette smoking decreased among 10th graders in 2004, following declines in lifetime use in all grades from 2002 to 2003. There also was evidence of a decrease in heavier smoking among 10th graders, with a significant decline in smoking of one-half a pack of cigarettes or more per day. Trend analysis from 2001 to 2004 showed a 17% cumulative decline in drug use and an 18% cumulative drop in past-month marijuana use. The survey noted some areas of concern. Although the rates of hydrocodone/acetaminophen (ie, Vicodin) abuse did not change significantly from 2003 to 2004, Vicodin was used by 9.3% of 12th graders, 6.2% of 10th graders, and 2.5% of 8th graders during the past year. Oxycodone (ie, OxyContin) was used in the past year by 5% of 12th graders, 3.5% of 10th graders, and 1.7% of eighth graders in 2004. These rates were not significantly different from the 2003 rates; however, combining all three grades revealed a significant increase in past-year OxyContin use between 2002 and 2004. The 2004 statistics proves that the lifetime inhalant use for 8th graders increased considerably.