We all recognize the impact of drug use on America. Too many of us have been touched by a life cut short by overdose, or a future cut down by substance dependence. Unfortunately, drug use holds back too many Americans from living up to their best selves and achieving their goals.
And it hits young people particularly hard.
As part of our focus on young people, every year we join the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research to present findings from the “Monitoring the Future” (MTF) study. This is the largest survey on youth drug use in America and reflects research into drug use and attitudes about drugs among students in the 8th, 10th and 12th grades.
The young people represented in the study are making decisions that will define their future—and the future health and safety of the next generation of American leaders, innovators, and citizens. That is why this survey is so important.
Although this year’s survey shows that there were no statistically significant increases in use over last year, over a 6-year period (2007-2012), we have seen some troubling increases in youth drug use:
- Past month use of any illicit drug increased among high school seniors (from 21.9% to 25.2%).
- Past month use of marijuana increased among 10th graders (from 14.2% to 17.0%) and 12th graders (from 18.8% to 22.9%).
In responding to America’s drug problem, the Obama Administration is guided by the knowledge that drug use is a threat to public health, and substance dependence is a preventable, treatable disease. Though these recent increases are cause for concern, it is important to note that progress can be made. In fact, over the long term, drug use among young people now is far lower than it was in the late 1970s. As President Obama noted, we have successfully changed attitudes regarding smoking and drunk driving—and we can do the same for the challenges represented by today’s new findings.