2017 Key Findings on Adolescent Substance Use

Monitoring the Future (MTF) published its key 2017 findings online at the end of January. This Overview is based on surveys of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in the US and contains substance use trends into 2017.


Annual prevalence (any use in the past year) of marijuana rose 1.3 percentage points to 23.9% for the three grades combined. It stood at  10% in 8th, 26% in 10th, and 37% in 12th grade in 2017. Daily marijuana use changed little from last year.


Inhalant use rose in 8th grade, going up by 0.9 percentage points to 4.7%, after a decade-long downward trend.


Prescription drug use among teens has been declining since about 2010 and in 2017 declined further to 11%, down from 17% in 2005. Prescription drugs include amphetamines, sedatives, tranquilizers, and narcotics. Non-prescription narcotic use in 12th grade reached an annual prevalence of 9.2% in 2009 and was at 4.2% in 2017.


Most forms of tobacco use continued to decline in 2017. Teen vaping grew from near zero use in 2011 to one of the most common forms of adolescent substance use by 2015. It declined some in 2016. In 2017 the MTF survey question was changed to ask about specific substances vaped. Annual prevalence of marijuana vaping was considerable in 2017: 3%, 8%, and 10% in grades 8, 10, and 12. So were levels of nicotine vaping at 8%, 16%, and 19%. [In other news, a recent study found nicotine in over 90% of e-liquids labeled as having none.]


Alcohol use continued to decline among teens. High-intensity drinking at 15 or more drinks in a row, however, declined more slowly.


The Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2017: Overview, key findings on adolescent drug use is available online and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.