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The proportion of twelfth-grade students who report being substance-free in the last 30 days (no use of cigarettes, alcohol, or illicit drugs) increased from 26 percent in 1976 to 54 percent in 2014, the highest ever recorded. In 2014, the proportions of eighth- and tenth-graders abstaining from substances, at 86 and 69 percent, respectively ,were the highest since 1991.

Importance

While programs are often targeted to prevent particular types of substance use (tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs), the ultimate goal of most social policy in this area, and of most parents, is to ensure teens are substance-free. The negative social, academic, and health-related outcomes associated with the use of these substances are well documented,[1] and can include delinquent behavior; poor academic performance; risky sexual behaviors[2]; psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety or antisocial personality disorder[3],[4]; and other health-related issues.[5]

Use of alcohol, cigarettes, inhalants, and marijuana, sometimes called “gateway drugs,” may increase the likelihood of other drug use.[6] Because teens who use one of these often use other substances as well, prevention programs that target multiple substances may be more successful than those that focus on only one.[7]

Trends

80_fig1Among all age groups, there has been an increasing proportion of students who were substance free for the past month. Between 1976 and 2014, the percentage of twelfth-grade students who reported being substance-free during the 30 days preceding the survey increased from 26 to 54 percent. The percentage of eighth-grade students who were substance-free increased from 65 percent in 1996 to 86 percent in 2014. The percentage of substance-free students in the tenth grade has also increased, from a low of 49 percent in 1996 to 69 percent in 2014. (Figure 1)

Trends in the percentage of students who reported drinking, smoking, and taking illicit drugs in the past month have been less consistent. Among eighth-grade students, the percentage who reported using all three types of substances rose in the early nineties, peaking at eight percent in 1996, before showing a gradual, but steady, decline. In 2014, the proportion was one percent of students. (Appendix 1)

Use among tenth-grade students had a similar pattern throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, peaking at 14 percent in 1996 before gradually declining to a low of six percent in 2008. Between 2008 and 2010, the proportion rose to seven percent, but fell to four percent in 2014. (Appendix 2)

Among twelfth-grade students, the proportion reporting that they had used all three substances in the last month fell between 1976 and 1991, from 20 to ten percent. However, as in the case of eighth- and tenth-graders, the proportion rose throughout the early nineties, peaking at 17 percent in 1997. Since then, the proportion has been gradually decreasing, reaching a new low of seven percent in 2014. (Appendix 3)

Differences by Race/Hispanic Origin[8]

80_fig2In 2014, black students in the eighth grade were no more likely than their white counterparts to report being substance-free, but that gap grows in tenth and twelfth grades, such that older black students were more likely than their white counterparts to do so. Students in the twelfth grade had the largest gap by race, with 62 percent of black students reporting being substance-free in the last month, compared with 51 percent of white students. (Figure 2)

In eighth grade, Hispanic students were the least likely to report being substance-free at 85 percent. In tenth-grade, Hispanic students were also less likely than black students to be substance-free, at 67 percent, but were similar to white students. In twelfth grade, Hispanic students were more likely than white students, to report being substance-free, at 56 percent, but less likely than black students. (Figure 2) Because data for this indicator are collected only from youth who are in school, some of these changes by grade level may reflect dropout or incarceration rates, which vary markedly by race/Hispanic origin.[9]

Differences by Age

The share of students who report being substance-free decreases with age, with the largest decline taking place between eighth and tenth grades. In 2014, 86 percent of eighth-grade students reported being substance-free, compared with 69 percent of tenth-graders and 54 percent of twelfth-grade students. (Figure 1)

Conversely, the percentage who report using all three substances (illicit drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol) increases with age. In 2014, one percent of youth in eighth grade reported using all three substances, four percent of tenth-graders, and six percent of twelfth-graders.  (Figure 3)

Differences by College Plans

80_fig03Students who plan on completing four years of college are much less likely than other students to report being using all three substances in the past month. In 2014, only one percent of eighth-graders who planned on completing college reported using all three substances in the past 30 days, compared with six percent without such plans. Similar patterns exist among students in the tenth and twelfth grades, although the difference is less for twelfth-graders (perhaps reflecting the loss of students who have already dropped out of school). (Figure 3) The differences are smaller, but still significant, when looking at the proportion of students who were substance free. (Appendix 1, Appendix 2, and Appendix 3)

Differences by Parental Education

80_fig4Among eighth- and tenth-grade students, those whose parents graduated from college are more likely than those whose parents have only completed high school to report being substance-free. For instance, 64 percent of tenth-graders whose parents do not have a high school diploma or GED reported being substance-free, compared with 73 percent of those whose parents have completed a four-year degree. (Figure 4)  Among twelfth-grade students, parental education is not significantly related to the likelihood of being substance-free.(Appendix 3)

State and Local Estimates

None available.

International Estimates

None available.

National Goals

The federal government has set several national goals related to adolescents and illicit drug, alcohol and tobacco use, through its Healthy People 2020 initiative.   These goals include: decreasing the percentage of high school students smoking one or more cigarettes in the prior month from the 2009 level of 19.5 percent to 16 percent by 2020; decreasing the proportion of adolescents reporting the use of alcohol or any illicit drugs in the past month from 18.3 percent in 2008 to 16.5 percent in 2020; and decreasing the proportion of adolescents reporting the use of marijuana in the past month from 6.7 percent in 2008 to six percent in 2020. The initiative also aims to increase the age of first drug use, the proportion of adolescents who remain free from alcohol and marijuana, the percentage of adolescents who remain substance-free, and to change adolescents’ perceptions of drug, alcohol and tobacco use.

More information is available here and here. (See goals Tu-2, SA-2, SA-3, SA-4, SA-13, SA-14, and SA-21)

What Works to Make Progress on This Indicator

Bandy, T., & Moore, K. A. (2008). What works for preventing and stopping substance use in adolescents: Lessons from experimental evaluations of programs and interventions [Electronic Version] Washington, DC: Child Trends.

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Healthy Youth!, Tobacco Use.  See “Science-based Strategies.”

Related Indicators

Definition

Substance users are defined as those who said they had used one of the following substances in the past thirty days: alcohol, cigarettes or illicit drugs. For twelfth-graders, Illicit drugs include any use of marijuana, LSD, other hallucinogens, cocaine, heroin or any use of other narcotics, amphetamines, barbiturates, or tranquilizers not under a doctor’s orders. For eighth- and tenth-graders use of illicit drugs include any use of marijuana, LSD, other hallucinogens, crack, other cocaine, heroin, or any use of amphetamines or tranquilizers not under a doctor’s orders. The use of other narcotics and barbiturates has been excluded, because these younger respondents appear to over-report use (perhaps because they include the use of nonprescription drugs in their answers).[10]

Students who are reported here as using only one substance may have used multiple different types of illicit drugs in the past month.

Data Sources

Child Trends’ original analysis of Monitoring the Future survey data, 1991 to 2014.

Raw Data Source

Bachman, J.  G., Johnston, L. D., and O’Malley, P. M. Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth (8th, 10th, and 12th-Grade Surveys), 1976-2014 [Computer files]. Conducted by University of Michigan, Survey Research Center. ICPSR ed. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [producer and distributor].

ICPSR: http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/

Monitoring the Future: http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/

Appendix 1 – Use of Alcohol, Cigarette and Illicit Drugs1 in the Previous 30 Days: Eighth-Graders, Selected Years, 1991-2014

1991 1995 1996 1997 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Used no substances in past 30 days 69.1 67.3 64.7 66.9 71.2 72.6 72.5 75.9 76.4 78.5 78.7 80.4 80.4 81.4 80.8 82.5 85.3 85.5 86.3
Gender
Male 67.7 66.7 64.0 66.0 70.8 71.1 72.8 76.9 77.0 79.1 79.6 80.5 80.8 80.7 80.4 82.2 85.9 86.7 86.5
Female 70.7 68.1 65.6 67.8 71.8 74.1 72.5 75.4 76.2 78.0 78.3 80.5 80.1 82.4 81.2 83.4 85.0 84.4 86.4
Race/Hispanic Origin
White 68.5 66.1 62.8 65.4 69.4 71.8 72.2 75.9 77.0 78.7 79.8 81.9 80.6 81.4 82.1 84.2 87.0 87.3 87.1
Black 78.5 76.8 73.6 75.2 79.2 79.1 77.5 78.7 77.4 80.6 83.0 84.5 82.2 84.4 82.2 82.8 87.0 83.5 87.6
Hispanic 77.2 76.8 76.0 79.6 83.5 85.3
Parental Education2
Less than high school 58.8 58.6 59.5 57.4 60.0 63.2 61.8 68.3 65.7 67.5 68.7 68.1 68.1 71.6 71.6 73.0 76.4 76.7 81.2
Completed high school 66.6 62.2 60.3 63.4 65.3 65.9 65.4 70.1 72.0 72.9 74.2 74.7 75.1 77.1 75.1 76.2 79.8 80.2 81.7
Some college 69.4 64.5 62.2 63.4 69.9 70.4 70.6 73.9 75.2 76.3 76.8 78.6 79.5 78.9 78.6 81.1 83.3 82.5 84.0
Completed college 72.6 73.2 67.7 70.2 77.4 78.4 77.2 80.3 79.7 83.2 83.3 85.8 83.8 85.3 85.2 86.7 88.4 89.4 88.8
Graduate school 71.9 73.2 70.7 73.9 76.8 79.4 80.0 82.0 81.5 84.8 84.0 86.9 86.0 87.4 87.6 88.1 90.9 90.5 90.5
College Plans
None or under 4 years 52.6 46.7 44.9 44.4 47.0 49.9 50.4 53.9 54.1 55.6 59.3 57.2 59.6 61.8 60.0 61.9 63.9 66.4 69.1
Complete four years 72.0 69.9 67.6 69.3 74.0 75.1 74.7 78.4 78.8 80.9 80.6 82.5 82.1 83.0 82.5 84.1 86.5 86.4 87.2
Used only 1 substance in past 30 days3 19.6 16.7 17.3 17.1 15.8 15.4 15.5 14.1 14.4 12.6 13.0 12.1 12.4 11.7 11.4 10.5 9.0 9.2 9.0
Gender
Male 20.2 17.2 17.9 18.0 16.4 16.1 14.7 14.1 14.7 12.2 12.5 11.6 11.8 11.7 11.6 10.8 8.8 8.7 9.3
Female 19.0 16.3 16.5 16.1 15.2 14.9 16.0 13.9 14.0 12.8 13.4 12.6 13.0 11.3 11.2 10.1 9.4 9.6 8.8
Race/Hispanic Origin
White 20.1 16.6 17.9 17.0 16.4 15.6 15.5 14.1 13.9 12.3 12.0 10.6 12.0 11.4 10.1 9.4 8.1 7.8 8.3
Black 17.0 15.4 15.0 15.9 13.3 12.9 14.5 13.7 15.4 12.4 12.2 10.1 12.1 9.9 12.0 12.0 8.5 11.7 9.7
Hispanic 15.0 14.0 14.1 12.9 10.5 9.8
Parental Education2
Less than high school 20.4 19.7 20.0 20.4 18.4 18.4 18.6 16.0 19.7 16.6 16.8 17.1 18.4 15.9 15.8 14.5 14.4 13.4 10.8
Completed high school 20.3 18.9 18.6 18.8 17.6 18.1 18.6 15.7 15.6 14.6 14.9 15.3 14.9 13.9 14.1 13.9 11.3 12.4 11.3
Some college 19.8 17.9 18.7 18.6 17.0 16.5 17.2 15.9 14.8 13.4 14.1 13.0 13.0 13.2 12.8 11.3 10.2 10.7 10.4
Completed college 19.2 14.1 15.9 15.9 13.6 13.2 13.5 12.2 13.6 11.0 11.1 9.5 11.2 9.8 8.8 8.4 8.1 7.4 8.4
Graduate school 19.0 13.8 14.4 13.5 13.5 13.5 11.8 11.9 12.7 10.5 11.2 9.6 9.1 8.9 8.6 8.5 5.9 6.3 6.9
College Plans
None or under 4 years 22.9 22.8 19.4 21.0 22.3 19.7 19.7 18.7 20.6 18.9 17.1 18.0 18.2 16.8 17.2 18.9 16.9 14.2 14.5
Complete four years 18.9 16.0 16.9 16.7 15.0 15.0 15.1 13.4 13.7 11.9 12.6 11.7 11.9 11.2 11.0 9.9 8.6 8.9 8.8
 (eighth-graders) 1991 1995 1996 1997 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Used two substances in past 30 days3 8.0 9.2 10.2 9.1 7.7 7.0 7.7 5.8 5.7 5.2 4.9 4.7 4.3 4.3 4.9 4.4 3.7 3.5 3.3
Gender
Male 8.7 9.7 10.5 9.0 7.6 7.6 7.8 5.1 5.7 5.0 4.9 5.2 4.6 4.6 4.9 4.4 3.6 3.0 3.1
Female 7.3 8.7 10.0 9.0 7.7 6.5 7.5 6.4 5.8 5.4 4.7 4.2 4.1 4.0 4.9 4.1 3.6 3.9 3.3
Race/Hispanic Origin
White 8.1 10.0 10.9 9.8 8.3 7.2 7.7 5.8 5.7 5.0 4.8 4.8 4.3 4.2 4.7 3.8 3.0 2.9 3.1
Black 3.9 5.0 7.6 6.0 4.7 6.2 5.4 5.1 4.5 5.3 3.1 3.5 4.1 4.7 4.7 4.2 3.1 4.1 2.3
Hispanic 5.4 6.0 6.1 5.3 4.2 3.8
Parental Education2
Less than high school 14.8 11.3 11.2 11.0 11.5 9.4 12.5 8.3 7.7 8.9 7.9 8.7 7.3 7.8 8.1 8.4 6.0 6.7 6.1
Completed high school 9.2 10.8 11.3 9.7 9.9 9.6 9.9 7.4 8.1 7.1 6.1 6.1 6.3 5.3 7.0 5.6 5.5 5.0 4.9
Some college 7.4 10.1 10.5 10.2 7.8 7.8 7.8 6.2 6.1 5.6 5.5 5.2 4.1 5.2 5.1 4.7 4.7 3.9 3.7
Completed college 6.4 7.6 10.1 8.1 5.7 5.0 6.3 4.6 4.3 3.8 3.8 3.4 3.1 3.1 3.6 3.3 2.5 2.3 2.0
Graduate school 6.3 7.8 9.0 7.4 5.8 4.9 5.4 3.9 4.0 3.3 2.8 2.3 3.5 1.8 2.6 2.1 2.0 2.1 2.0
College Plans
None or under 4 years 14.8 13.5 16.9 16.7 15.2 14.8 16.0 13.2 12.9 12.5 11.0 13.6 10.5 11.3 11.7 10.2 10.7 10.5 10.5
Complete four years 6.9 8.6 9.3 8.2 6.8 6.2 6.8 5.1 5.1 4.4 4.3 3.8 3.9 3.7 4.4 3.9 3.3 3.1 2.9
Used all 3 substances in past 30 days 3.3 6.8 7.9 7.0 5.4 4.9 4.4 4.3 3.4 3.7 3.4 2.8 2.9 2.6 2.9 2.6 1.9 1.9 1.4
Gender
Male 3.4 6.4 7.6 7.0 5.3 5.1 4.6 3.9 2.7 3.6 3.0 2.7 2.9 3.0 3.1 2.7 1.7 1.6 1.1
Female 3.1 6.9 7.9 7.1 5.3 4.6 4.1 4.4 4.0 3.8 3.7 2.8 2.9 2.3 2.7 2.4 2.1 2.1 1.6
Race/Hispanic Origin
White 3.4 7.3 8.4 7.8 5.8 5.4 4.6 4.3 3.4 3.9 3.4 2.8 3.1 3.1 3.1 2.6 1.9 1.9 1.5
Black 0.6 2.8 3.9 2.9 2.8 1.8 2.7 2.4 2.7 1.7 1.7 1.9 1.6 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.4 0.7 0.5
Hispanic 2.4 3.3 3.8 2.2 1.8 1.2
Parental Education2
Less than high school 6.0 10.4 9.3 11.2 10.1 9.0 7.1 7.3 6.9 7.0 6.5 6.1 6.2 4.7 4.5 4.1 3.2 3.3 2.0
Completed high school 4.0 8.1 9.8 8.0 7.2 6.5 6.1 6.8 4.3 5.5 4.8 3.9 3.8 3.7 3.8 4.4 3.5 2.4 2.0
Some college 3.4 7.6 8.6 7.8 5.3 5.3 4.4 4.0 3.9 4.7 3.7 3.2 3.4 2.8 3.5 2.9 1.8 2.9 2.0
Completed college 1.8 5.1 6.2 5.8 3.4 3.4 3.1 2.9 2.4 2.1 1.8 1.3 1.9 1.8 2.5 1.5 1.1 0.9 0.8
Graduate school 2.8 5.2 5.9 5.1 3.9 2.3 2.7 2.2 1.8 1.5 2.0 1.2 1.5 1.9 1.2 1.3 1.2 1.1 0.8
College Plans
None or under 4 years 9.7 17.0 18.8 17.9 15.5 15.6 14.0 14.2 12.4 12.9 12.6 11.3 11.8 10.1 11.1 9.0 8.5 8.9 5.9
Complete four years 2.2 5.5 6.2 5.7 4.2 3.7 3.4 3.1 2.5 2.8 2.5 2.0 2.1 2.1 2.2 2.1 1.6 1.6 1.1
1Illicit drugs are defined as marijuana, LSD, other hallucinogens, crack, other cocaine, or heroin; or any use of amphetamines or tranquilizers not under a doctor’s orders. The use of narcotics other than heroin and sedatives (barbiturates) has been excluded because 8th and 10th graders appear to overreport their use (perhaps because they include the use of nonprescription drugs in their answers).

2Parental education is calculated by the Institute for Social Research as the average of the mother’s and father’s education. Child Trends has relabeled these results to reflect the education level of the most educated parent. In those circumstances where the gap between mothers’ and fathers’ education is more than one level, this results is an underestimate of the most educated parent’s education level.

3Indicates they have used only one of alcohol, cigarettes or illicit drugs. May in fact have used multiple types of illicit drugs.

Source: Original analysis by Child Trends of Monitoring the Future Data, 1991-2014

 

Appendix 2 – Use of Alcohol, Cigarette and Illicit Drugs1 in the Previous 30 Days: Tenth-Graders, Selected years, 1991-2014

1991 1995 1996 1997 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Used no substances in past 30 days 51.9 51.8 49.3 49.8 50.9 53.0 53.1 57.5 57.9 60.3 60.3 60.7 64.8 63.1 63.7 64.8 65.3 66.3 69.1
Gender
Male 49.5 50.8 48.0 48.1 48.6 51.0 53.0 57.2 56.8 60.6 60.2 60.8 64.4 60.9 61.2 62.7 63.4 64.5 69.0
Female 54.3 52.9 50.4 51.5 53.1 55.1 53.0 57.8 59.0 60.1 60.6 60.7 65.2 65.2 66.2 66.9 67.3 68.2 69.4
Race/Hispanic Origin
White 48.5 49.0 45.9 46.8 47.7 50.8 49.4 54.7 56.3 57.2 58.5 58.4 63.2 61.8 63.5 64.2 64.4 66.3 67.8
Black 67.7 65.4 67.2 66.2 64.9 65.8 67.3 67.7 65.3 71.5 69.6 72.7 72.6 72.0 70.8 67.6 69.3 68.0 74.4
Hispanic 59.5 58.7 57.6 63.6 63.7 63.3 67.1
Parental Education2
Less than high school 51.3 46.0 45.8 48.3 49.0 52.0 48.8 50.5 50.2 54.8 56.2 54.5 56.7 56.1 56.0 57.7 56.5 60.3 63.6
Completed high school 49.5 46.0 46.2 47.1 47.2 48.7 47.8 52.5 53.0 55.2 54.2 54.7 60.8 59.6 57.7 60.3 62.3 59.3 66.1
Some college 50.1 51.5 47.0 48.5 48.1 50.9 51.6 56.7 55.0 59.5 57.7 58.9 62.4 61.1 61.2 61.8 63.8 64.4 65.9
Completed college 55.4 54.1 52.7 51.5 53.2 56.2 56.6 62.0 62.3 63.0 64.6 63.7 68.7 65.9 68.7 69.7 66.9 70.8 72.6
Graduate school 51.4 58.7 52.1 53.6 56.0 56.9 60.0 61.1 63.8 64.4 64.6 67.6 70.0 67.9 70.3 70.6 69.2 71.2 72.3
College Plans
None or under 4 years 38.0 34.0 33.3 32.9 34.0 36.1 35.7 40.9 38.8 43.4 43.6 41.4 42.9 42.5 41.3 43.5 47.0 48.0 52.2
Complete four years 54.9 54.8 51.9 52.6 53.3 55.8 56.1 60.1 60.3 62.5 62.4 63.2 67.1 65.3 66.4 67.2 66.6 67.7 70.4
Used only one substance in past 30 days3 28.1 21.4 21.1 21.0 23.3 22.1 22.8 22.3 22.5 21.3 21.6 21.2 19.2 19.6 18.9 18.2 18.5 18.5 17.7
Gender
Male 29.8 21.7 21.3 22.0 23.5 22.5 23.3 22.1 22.4 20.5 21.6 19.9 19.0 20.1 19.0 18.1 18.4 18.9 17.6
Female 26.6 21.1 21.0 20.0 23.0 21.8 22.4 22.4 22.4 22.0 21.4 22.5 19.3 19.2 18.8 18.5 18.4 18.0 17.8
Race/Hispanic Origin
White 28.9 21.9 21.7 20.9 23.7 22.2 23.4 23.0 22.4 22.4 21.6 21.6 19.3 19.6 18.6 10.6 18.6 17.9 17.7
Black 25.6 21.0 17.8 18.6 22.1 19.6 19.8 19.9 21.3 18.3 18.7 17.9 17.0 16.6 17.6 9.7 19.4 20.3 16.8
Hispanic 22.8 23.8 23.2 11.0 19.7 21.0 19.7
Parental Education2
Less than high school 26.5 22.5 24.6 24.0 19.3 23.5 22.9 23.3 27.2 24.0 21.8 22.5 24.0 20.5 21.4 20.6 22.4 19.5 21.4
Completed high school 28.3 23.5 20.4 21.2 24.7 22.3 24.1 23.5 24.5 22.7 23.8 23.0 21.1 20.7 20.3 18.3 18.0 21.5 18.8
Some college 30.4 21.4 21.9 19.8 24.7 23.5 24.4 22.4 23.1 21.2 22.8 21.3 19.4 20.6 20.2 20.1 19.6 18.5 18.4
Completed college 26.2 20.5 20.6 20.7 23.1 21.2 21.7 21.3 21.1 20.7 20.2 21.6 17.5 19.2 17.3 16.3 18.0 17.2 16.3
Graduate school 29.2 19.8 20.7 22.0 21.7 21.6 19.5 22.5 20.2 19.7 20.1 18.1 17.9 17.4 17.0 16.7 17.6 17.9 16.8
College Plans
None or under 4 years 28.8 22.8 20.5 21.4 24.0 20.8 25.3 21.9 25.5 22.0 21.9 23.6 22.6 24.6 20.8 21.4 19.5 21.6 19.6
Complete four years 28.0 21.2 21.3 20.9 23.2 22.3 22.3 22.3 22.1 21.2 21.6 20.9 18.8 19.1 18.7 17.8 18.4 18.2 17.6
(10th graders) 1991 1995 1996 1997 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Used two substances in past 30 days3 13.1 15.5 15.9 16.0 14.3 14.0 15.6 12.0 11.7 11.3 11.2 11.2 10.0 10.6 10.5 10.6 10.6 10.7 9.5
Gender
Male 13.4 16.3 16.3 16.6 15.2 15.6 15.6 12.3 12.5 11.8 11.6 11.9 10.3 12.0 11.6 11.7 12.1 11.4 9.6
Female 12.8 14.6 15.6 15.4 13.5 12.4 15.6 11.6 11.0 10.7 10.8 10.4 9.9 9.5 9.4 9.4 9.2 10.1 9.2
Race/Hispanic Origin
White 14.7 16.5 17.0 17.5 15.7 14.6 17.2 12.6 12.4 12.2 12.1 12.1 10.7 11.2 10.5 10.6 10.5 11.1 10.2
Black 4.9 8.8 10.6 9.0 7.7 9.9 8.1 8.4 8.9 7.0 7.5 7.5 7.2 8.2 8.0 9.7 8.1 9.8 7.3
Hispanic 11.4 11.0 13.1 11.0 12.1 10.9 10.3
Parental Education2
Less than high school 13.7 18.3 15.5 15.3 17.0 13.1 18.3 15.8 12.6 13.8 13.1 11.9 11.1 13.3 13.4 14.3 13.8 13.6 9.9
Completed high school 14.4 17.7 17.9 17.0 15.6 15.9 18.4 13.8 12.5 13.2 13.1 13.7 10.8 11.9 12.9 12.7 11.7 12.4 10.2
Some college 13.6 15.8 16.4 17.5 15.2 14.7 14.9 11.8 13.1 11.8 11.9 12.4 10.7 11.0 11.4 11.4 11.2 12.1 11.1
Completed college 11.9 14.8 14.5 15.3 12.8 12.8 14.1 10.2 10.3 10.0 9.6 8.9 9.6 9.6 7.9 8.7 10.2 9.0 8.5
Graduate school 11.8 12.1 14.6 13.1 12.6 12.1 13.6 10.9 10.5 9.8 10.1 9.9 8.0 9.2 8.4 8.1 8.9 8.4 8.5
College Plans
None or under 4 years 20.9 23.0 21.8 22.4 20.4 21.2 22.4 19.6 19.0 19.9 16.7 18.4 17.2 18.1 19.4 18.9 18.2 17.0 16.5
Complete four years 11.4 14.1 15.0 14.9 13.4 12.8 14.5 10.9 10.8 10.2 10.5 10.3 9.3 9.8 9.4 9.7 10.1 10.3 8.9
Used all 3 substances in past 30 days 7.0 11.3 13.7 13.3 11.6 10.9 8.6 8.3 7.9 7.2 7.0 6.9 6.0 6.7 6.9 6.4 5.6 4.4 3.7
Gender
Male 7.4 11.2 14.3 13.3 12.7 11.0 8.1 8.3 8.3 7.2 6.7 7.4 6.3 7.1 8.2 7.5 6.1 5.2 3.9
Female 6.4 11.3 13.1 13.1 10.4 10.7 9.0 8.2 7.6 7.2 7.1 6.3 5.7 6.1 5.6 5.2 5.1 3.7 3.6
Race/Hispanic Origin
White 7.9 12.6 15.4 14.9 13.0 12.4 10.0 9.7 9.0 8.2 7.7 8.0 6.7 7.3 7.4 7.4 6.5 4.7 4.4
Black 1.8 4.8 4.4 6.3 5.3 4.6 4.9 3.9 4.6 3.3 4.3 1.9 3.2 3.2 3.6 3.8 3.2 1.9 1.6
Hispanic 6.3 6.4 6.1 4.5 4.5 4.9 3.0
Parental Education2
Less than high school 8.6 13.3 14.1 12.5 14.7 11.3 10.1 10.4 10.0 7.5 8.9 9.1 8.3 10.1 9.2 7.5 7.3 6.7 5.1
Completed high school 7.8 12.8 15.5 14.7 12.5 13.1 9.7 10.2 10.0 8.9 8.9 8.6 7.3 7.9 9.1 8.8 7.9 6.8 4.9
Some college 6.0 11.3 14.7 14.3 12.0 10.8 9.1 9.0 8.8 7.6 7.6 7.4 7.4 7.3 7.1 6.7 5.5 5.0 4.6
Completed college 6.6 10.7 12.2 12.5 10.9 9.8 7.6 6.6 6.3 6.3 5.6 5.7 4.2 5.3 6.1 5.4 5.0 3.0 2.6
Graduate school 7.6 9.5 12.6 11.3 9.7 9.4 6.9 5.5 5.4 6.1 5.2 4.5 4.1 5.5 4.3 4.6 4.4 2.5 2.5
College Plans
None or under 4 years 12.2 20.2 24.4 23.3 21.6 21.9 16.6 17.7 16.7 14.8 17.8 16.7 17.2 14.7 18.6 16.2 15.3 13.4 11.7
Complete four years 5.8 9.8 11.9 11.6 10.0 9.1 7.2 6.8 6.8 6.1 5.5 5.6 4.8 5.9 5.5 5.3 5.0 3.8 3.1
1Illicit drugs are defined as marijuana, LSD, other hallucinogens, crack, other cocaine, or heroin; or any use of amphetamines or tranquilizers not under a doctor’s orders. The use of narcotics other than heroin and sedatives (barbiturates) has been excluded because 8th and 10th graders appear to overreport their use (perhaps because they include the use of nonprescription drugs in their answers).

2Parental education is calculated by the Institute for Social Research as the average of the mother’s and father’s education. Child Trends has relabeled these results to reflect the education level of the most educated parent. In those circumstances where the gap between mothers’ and fathers’ education is more than one level, this results is an underestimate of the most educated parent’s education level.3Indicates they have used only one of alcohol, cigarettes or illicit drugs. May in fact have used multiple types of illicit drugs.

Source: Original analysis by Child Trends of Monitoring the Future Data, 1991-2014

Appendix 3 – Percentage Not Using Alcohol, Cigarettes, or Illicit Drugs1 in the Previous 30 Days: Twelfth-Graders, Selected years, 1991-2011 

1976 1981 1986 1991 1995 1997 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Used no substances in past 30 days 25.5 24.6 30.0 40.4 40.4 38.6 42.1 42.5 44.5 46.1 45.6 46.5 48.1 49.7 50.1 50.4 52.5 52.2 52.0 53.0 54.1
Gender
Male 20.9 21.0 27.4 36.5 37.1 35.8 38.6 38.0 41.3 42.6 43.1 43.1 46.3 46.8 47.4 46.4 48.9 49.1 48.7 49.9 52.8
Female 30.2 28.1 32.5 44.5 43.7 41.5 45.5 46.9 47.4 49.2 48.1 49.9 50.1 52.5 52.5 54.5 56.0 55.4 55.4 56.2 55.7
Race/Hispanic Origin
White 23.8 21.3 25.6 36.2 36.9 33.3 36.9 37.1 40.2 41.4 41.2 41.3 43.9 45.0 45.9 47.2 50.0 49.1 49.5 50.5 50.5
Black 36.9 44.2 53.6 62.9 56.3 59.7 62.2 62.8 63.7 65.1 64.8 64.0 63.9 64.3 63.3 60.8 61.2 62.5 61.3 62.2 62.0
Hispanic 54.3 53.9 53.3 54.9 54.9 55.9
Parental Education2
Less than high school 26.6 29.4 37.5 42.5 41.9 43.8 44.6 46.8 50.6 50.0 50.7 53.1 47.3 53.7 51.9 52.4 54.7 52.1 51.3 53.8 54.0
Completed high school 22.8 24.3 29.2 40.4 38.2 38.3 41.3 41.4 44.0 44.2 44.3 44.1 45.2 46.2 49.6 49.1 50.1 51.8 50.5 51.1 52.4
Some college 27.8 24.2 28.2 40.1 41.1 39.5 40.3 40.9 41.7 45.7 41.3 44.7 46.7 50.5 50.1 46.7 51.6 50.9 50.0 50.3 53.4
Completed college 24.9 23.8 29.2 39.8 41.3 37.6 44.7 42.5 45.0 47.0 47.6 44.9 51.6 50.2 50.6 53.6 52.4 53.5 53.2 54.7 55.1
Graduate school 22.6 20.1 28.0 38.3 39.2 35.2 41.6 44.2 43.7 46.1 47.7 49.4 47.7 48.2 48.0 51.5 57.2 51.4 54.1 55.6 53.2
College Plans
None or under 4 years 22.3 21.8 26.8 34.4 32.2 30.3 34.2 34.0 37.3 35.8 37.4 37.1 36.9 41.6 39.2 40.0 41.9 42.4 45.6 42.9 44.3
Complete 4 years 29.1 26.5 31.6 42.7 43.3 41.2 44.8 45.1 46.3 49.2 47.7 48.7 50.9 51.4 52.5 52.5 54.8 54.1 53.5 55.0 56.1
Used only 1 substance in past 30 days3 28.8 32.6 33.2 30.8 25.3 24.1 24.3 24.5 24.5 24.8 25.6 25.9 25.9 24.3 24.2 24.3 23.0 23.4 23.8 23.5 25.4
Gender
Male 29.1 35.2 33.8 32.4 24.8 24.1 24.2 26.2 24.8 24.6 25.9 25.4 26.1 24.0 24.1 24.1 22.8 23.0 23.7 23.4 24.5
Female 28.5 30.5 32.8 29.4 25.8 24.2 24.4 22.9 24.5 25.2 25.1 26.4 26.0 24.8 24.5 23.9 23.4 23.8 23.8 23.9 26.1
Race/Hispanic Origin
White 29.6 33.7 34.7 31.8 25.8 24.6 25.4 25.3 24.8 25.4 26.4 27.0 27.2 25.3 24.6 24.6 22.5 23.4 24.3 24.7 27.1
Black 26.1 28.1 27.0 26.4 23.6 21.2 21.3 20.0 20.6 20.0 20.7 22.0 20.2 22.2 21.2 21.8 22.7 21.9 22.8 20.3 23.5
Hispanic 23.9 26.0 26.4 22.8 22.4 25.1
Parental Education2
Less than high school 27.9 29.7 29.6 28.6 28.2 25.2 23.4 25.7 23.7 23.1 26.6 25.6 27.7 23.3 25.3 26.4 24.3 25.0 21.9 23.0 25.8
Completed high school 28.7 32.2 32.7 30.7 27.5 25.4 24.8 25.5 23.5 25.6 25.6 26.0 26.8 24.9 24.4 23.9 24.2 23.2 25.1 23.8 24.7
Some college 27.7 32.7 33.8 30.9 24.0 23.4 25.2 24.2 25.1 24.5 27.5 26.3 25.5 23.9 23.9 25.3 22.2 23.4 24.0 25.2 25.8
Completed college 30.4 34.1 34.9 32.1 24.8 23.3 22.5 23.4 25.1 24.5 23.9 26.3 24.8 24.1 24.0 22.6 23.1 23.1 22.6 22.5 25.6
Graduate school 34.5 37.9 35.9 32.2 23.9 24.7 25.7 25.6 25.5 27.0 25.5 25.9 27.5 26.8 25.0 25.7 22.0 24.6 25.9 23.3 26.3
College Plans
None or under 4 years 26.3 28.4 29.0 29.8 26.3 25.2 22.5 23.2 22.5 25.1 25.3 25.3 26.9 22.9 25.6 27.0 23.4 23.7 23.3 25.6 26.5
Complete four years 31.5 36.3 36.2 31.6 25.1 23.8 24.9 24.8 25.0 24.7 25.8 26.2 25.7 24.9 24.1 24.0 22.7 23.5 23.9 23.2 25.2
(12th graders) 1976 1981 1986 1991 1995 1997 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Used two substances in past 30 days3 25.6 24.9 21.6 18.5 20.1 20.7 19.1 19.3 18.0 17.1 16.8 16.6 15.6 15.3 15.7 15.8 15.4 15.1 16.0 16.3
14.2
Gender
Male 28.7 26.8 23.4 20.0 22.5 22.0 21.2 21.2 18.9 18.5 18.2 18.9 16.8 16.7 17.4 17.8 17.5 16.6 18.2 18.6 15.9
Female 22.4 22.8 19.9 16.9 17.9 19.3 17.0 17.3 17.0 15.8 15.7 14.6 14.2 13.7 14.0 14.0 13.3 13.3 13.8 13.9 12.4
Race/Hispanic Origin
White 25.9 25.8 23.1 20.6 21.8 23.0 21.6 21.5 20.0 19.1 18.6 18.6 17.3 17.0 17.8 17.1 16.9 16.4 16.7 16.7 14.9
Black 22.0 18.7 12.9 8.0 13.3 12.3 9.0 11.9 10.4 10.2 9.6 10.0 10.2 8.2 10.6 12.6 11.7 11.2 11.9 13.3 11.3
Hispanic 14.1 13.5 13.5 16.5 16.6 14.1
Parental Education2
Less than high school 26.7 23.8 19.8 19.5 18.1 18.4 18.5 16.6 16.6 16.1 14.1 13.5 15.3 13.9 13.3 13.3 15.0 14.2 18.6 16.0 13.3
Completed high school 26.5 24.6 21.3 19.3 21.2 20.1 20.0 19.2 18.7 18.5 17.7 17.3 16.9 17.4 16.6 16.6 16.2 15.0 15.7 17.0 16.8
Some college 25.1 25.2 22.9 18.5 20.7 20.6 20.0 19.9 18.5 17.0 17.7 17.4 16.6 14.5 15.4 18.1 15.8 16.0 15.7 16.3 13.7
Completed college 24.2 24.7 21.4 18.1 18.8 20.5 18.2 20.4 17.6 16.2 16.7 17.8 14.2 14.8 15.7 14.3 15.5 14.6 16.7 16.2 12.6
Graduate school 23.8 26.9 22.0 17.3 20.7 23.4 18.5 18.0 17.8 16.9 16.2 14.9 14.8 15.6 16.2 14.2 13.4 15.1 14.5 15.9 16.2
College Plans
None or under 4 years 28.0 26.6 23.5 23.0 24.4 22.6 24.2 24.7 22.1 21.4 21.1 20.8 19.9 18.5 20.2 19.6 20.1 18.8 18.6 18.8 18.3
Complete four years 23.0 23.6 20.2 16.6 18.6 20.2 17.5 17.8 17.0 15.8 15.9 15.6 14.5 14.5 14.6 14.9 14.5 14.3 15.3 15.6 13.4
Used all 3 substances in past 30 days 20.2 17.9 15.2 10.2 14.2 16.7 14.5 13.7 13.1 12.0 12.0 11.0 10.4 10.7 10.0 9.6 9.1 9.3 8.3 7.2 6.4
Gender
Male 21.3 16.9 15.4 11.1 15.6 18.1 15.9 14.7 15.1 14.3 12.8 12.7 10.8 12.4 11.0 11.7 10.8 11.3 9.4 8.2 6.9
Female 18.9 18.6 14.8 9.2 12.7 15.0 13.1 12.8 11.1 9.8 11.1 9.2 9.6 9.1 9.1 7.6 7.2 7.5 7.0 6.0 5.9
Race/Hispanic Origin
White 20.7 19.2 16.7 11.4 15.5 19.2 16.1 16.1 15.0 14.0 13.8 13.2 11.6 12.7 11.7 11.1 10.6 11.1 9.5 8.2 7.5
Black 15.1 9.1 6.5 2.7 6.7 6.8 7.5 5.2 5.2 4.7 4.9 4.0 5.7 5.3 4.9 4.9 4.5 4.5 4.0 4.2 3.2
Hispanic 7.7 6.6 6.9 5.9 6.2 4.9
Parental Education2
Less than high school 18.9 17.1 13.0 9.3 11.8 12.7 13.5 11.0 9.1 10.9 8.5 7.8 9.7 9.1 9.6 8.0 6.0 8.7 8.3 7.2 6.9
Completed high school 22.1 18.9 16.8 9.6 13.2 16.2 13.9 13.9 13.8 11.8 12.4 12.6 11.2 11.4 9.4 10.4 9.5 10.1 8.7 8.1 6.2
Some college 19.4 17.9 15.1 10.4 14.1 16.5 14.5 14.9 14.7 12.8 13.4 11.6 11.2 11.2 10.6 9.9 10.4 9.8 10.3 8.2 7.1
Completed college 20.6 17.4 14.5 10.1 15.1 18.6 14.7 13.7 12.3 12.3 11.9 11.0 9.4 11.0 9.8 9.5 9.0 8.9 7.5 6.7 6.7
Graduate school 19.1 15.1 14.2 12.2 16.2 16.8 14.3 12.2 13.0 10.0 10.6 9.8 10.1 9.5 10.7 8.7 7.3 9.0 5.5 5.1 4.3
College Plans
None or under 4 years 23.5 23.3 20.6 12.8 17.1 22.0 19.1 18.1 18.0 17.7 16.1 16.8 16.3 17.0 15.0 13.5 14.6 15.1 12.5 12.7 10.9
Complete four years 16.4 13.7 12.0 9.0 13.1 14.8 12.8 12.4 11.7 10.3 10.7 9.6 8.9 9.3 8.9 8.6 8.0 8.2 7.3 6.1 5.3
1Illicit drugs are defined as marijuana, LSD, other hallucinogens, crack, other cocaine, or heroin; or any use of amphetamines or tranquilizers not under a doctor’s orders. The use of narcotics other than heroin and sedatives (barbiturates) has been excluded because 8th and 10th graders appear to overreport their use (perhaps because they include the use of nonprescription drugs in their answers).

2Parental education is calculated by the Institute for Social Research as the average of the mother’s and father’s education.   Child Trends has relabeled these results to reflect the education level of the most educated parent. In those circumstances where the gap between mothers’ and fathers’ education is more than one level, this results is an underestimate of the most educated parent’s education level.3Indicates they have used only one of alcohol, cigarettes or illicit drugs. May in fact have used multiple types of illicit drugs.

Source: Original analysis by Child Trends of Monitoring the Future Data, 1991-2014.

Endnotes


[1]For details, see the “Importance” sections for the cigarettes, binge drinking, marijuana and illicit drug use indicators in the Child Trends DataBank.

[2]Ellickson, P. L., Tucker, J. S., and Klein, D. J. (2003). Ten-year prospective study of public health problems associated with early drinking. Pediatrics, 111 (5), 949-955.

[3]U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies. (1999). The Relationship between Mental Health and Substance Abuse Among Adolescents. Available at http://oas.samhsa.gov/NHSDA/A-9/TOC.htm#TopOfPage.

[4]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division of Adolescent and School Health, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Healthy Youth! See website at http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/.

[5]Office on National Drug Control Policy, Juveniles and Drugs. Available at http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/drugfact/juveniles/index.html

[6]National Drug Intelligence Center, Illicit Drugs and Youth, April 2002.
http://www.usdoj.gov/ndic/pubs07/798/

[7]Epstein, J.A., Botvin, G.J., Griffin, K.W., and Diaz, T. (2000). Role of Ethnicity and Gender in Polydrug Use Among a Longitudinal Sample of Innter-City Adolescents. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education (45), 1-12.

[8]Hispanics may be of any race. Estimates for whites and blacks in this report do not include Hispanics.

[9]Swaim, R. C., Beauvais, F., Chavez, E. L., Oetting, E. R. (1997). The effect of school dropout rates on estimates of adolescent substance use among three racial/ethnic groups. American Journal of Public Health. 87(1). Available at: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.87.1.51

[10]Johnson, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E. (2011) Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2010: Volume 1: Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research. Table 4-7footnote a.

Suggested Citation:

Child Trends Databank. (2015). Substance-free youth. Available at: https://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=substance-free-youth

Last updated: December 2015