Substance Use Among Adolescents: Latest Insights From the Monitoring the Future Survey


teen substance use

Substance Use Among Adolescents: Latest Insights From the Monitoring the Future Survey

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2023

The Monitoring the Future survey, conducted annually by University of Michigan researchers, serves as a critical tool in understanding trends and changes in substance use among young people. According to the latest results, the percentage of adolescents reporting substance use in 2022 remained steady after significantly declining the previous year. These findings provide essential insights into the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent return to in-person learning on drug use among America’s teens.

An Overview of Substance Use Trends in U.S. Teens

The COVID-19 pandemic and related changes like school closures and social distancing led to a dramatic decrease in teen substance use from 2020 to 2021. The 2022 results further affirm this trend, with reported use of illicit drugs staying at or significantly below pre-pandemic levels for all grades.

  • Eighth-graders: 11% reporting any illicit drug use
  • Sophomores: 21.5% reporting any illicit drug use
  • Seniors: 32.6% reporting any illicit drug use

These figures underline the fact that teen substance use did not increase dramatically even as students returned to in-person schooling and other social activities.

Alcohol, Vaping and Cannabis: A Closer Look

Survey respondents commonly reported alcohol, nicotine vaping and cannabis use, with levels remaining consistent with 2021 statistics.

  • Nicotine vaping and cannabis use: Stable across all three grades
  • Alcohol use: Returned to pre-pandemic levels for seniors, with 51.9% reporting usage in the past year

Though these findings suggest a stability or decline in illicit drug use, it’s crucial to look at the broader picture.

The Fentanyl Crisis

Despite the encouraging overall trends, other research points to a concerning rise in overdose deaths among young people aged 14 to 18. This increase is primarily due to a synthetic drug called fentanyl contaminating counterfeit pills designed to look like prescription medications such as benzodiazepines, ADHD medications and opioids.

The prevalence of fentanyl in the nationwide drug supply is deeply troubling. The potential risks associated with pills bought online or obtained from unknown sources emphasize the urgent need for education about the potential presence of deadly fentanyl.

Continued Vigilance and Education

The results from the Monitoring the Future survey provide valuable insights into teen substance use trends. While the data is encouraging, it’s impossible to overlook the hidden threat of fentanyl contamination. Education and prevention efforts must remain a priority, targeting known substance misuse and the dangers of counterfeit drugs.

At R&A Therapeutic Partners, we remain committed to supporting families and teens in navigating the complex landscape of substance use and mental health. With years of experience, we offer honest, compassionate support tailored to your needs. If you’re struggling with these issues, please contact us today. Together, we can address these challenges and work toward a healthier future for your family.

At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.

Share this post