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Monitoring the Future 2016 Survey Results

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Text description of 2016 MTF infographic

Monitoring the Future is an annual survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, under a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health. Since 1975, the survey has measured drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes in 12th graders nationwide; 8th and 10th graders were added to the survey in 1991.

45,473 students from 372 public and private schools participated in the 2016 survey.

Figure 1: Past-Month Marijuana Use Mostly Steady
From 1996 to 2016, past-month marijuana use was mostly steady among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders.

In 2016, past-month use for each grade was:

12th grade: 22.5%
10th grade: 14.0%
8th grade: 5.4%

68.9 percent of high school seniors do not view regular marijuana smoking as harmful, but 68.5 percent say they disapprove of regular marijuana smoking.

Figure 2: Past-Month Alcohol Use Continues Steady Decline
From 1996 to 2016, there was a steady decline in past-month alcohol use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders.

In 2016, past-month use for each grade was:

12th grade: 33.2%
10th grade: 19.9%
8th grade: 7.3%

Figure 3: Past-Month Cigarette Use Continues Steady Decline
From 1996 to 2016, there was a steady decline in past-month cigarette use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders.

In 2016, past-month use for each grade was:

12th grade: 10.5%
10th grade: 4.9%
8th grade: 2.6%

Figure 4: Teens More Likely to Use E-Cigarettes than Cigarettes
Past-month e-cigarette versus cigarette use for each grade was:

8th grade:

  • cigarette use: 2.6%
  • e-cigarette use: 6.2%

10th grade:

  • cigarette use: 4.9%
  • e-cigarette use: 11.0%

12th grade:

  • cigarette use: 10.5%
  • e-cigarette use: 12.5%

What did 12th graders think was in the mist they inhaled from an e-cigarette?

  • 62.8 percent thought they were inhaling flavoring.
  • 24.9 percent thought they were inhaling nicotine.
  • 6.8 percent thought they were inhaling marijuana or hash oil.
  • 5.6 percent said they didn't know what they were inhaling.

Despite the belief that the liquid used in e-cigs contains only flavoring, it also might contain nicotine.

Figure 5: Prescription/Over-the-Counter vs. Illicit Drugs

Past-year misuse of Vicodin® among 12th graders has dropped dramatically in the past 5 years, from 7.5 percent in 2012 to 2.9 percent in 2016. So has misuse of all prescription opioids among 12th graders despite high opioid overdose rates among adults.

Past-year misuse of prescription/OTC drugs among 12th graders in 2016 were:

  • amphetamines: 6.7%
  • tranquilizers: 4.9%
  • opioids other than heroin: 4.8%
  • cough medicine: 4.0%
  • sedatives: 3.0%

Past-year use of illicit drugs among 12th graders in 2016 were:

  • marijuana/hash: 35.6%
  • hallucinogens: 4.3%
  • synthetic marijuana: 3.5%
  • MDMA (Ecstasy): 2.7%
  • cocaine (any form): 2.3%
  • salvia: 1.8%
  • inhalants: 1.7%

Students Report Lowest Rates Since Start of the Survey

Across all grades, past-year use of inhalants, heroin, methamphetamine, alcohol, cigarettes, and synthetic cannabinoids are at their lowest by many measures.

For more information, visit us at @NIDAnews or drugabuse.gov.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at drugabuse.gov.

This publication is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from the NIDA. Citation of the source is appreciated, using the following language: Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This page was last updated December 2016