Illicit drugs

Reported Drug Use Among Adolescents Remains Stable Below Pre-Pandemic Levels in 2023

The latest results from the Monitoring the Future survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), reveal that the percentage of adolescents reporting any illicit substance use in 2023 has remained stable below pre-pandemic levels. The survey included responses from eighth, 10th, and 12th graders, with 10.9%, 19.8%, and 31.2%, respectively, reporting any illicit drug use in the past year.

While the data indicate a continued trend of low illicit substance use among teenagers, there has been a concerning rise in overdose deaths among teens between 2010 and 2021. The increase is attributed to illicit fentanyl contaminating counterfeit pills, posing significant dangers.

NIDA Director Nora Volkow emphasized the importance of educating young people about the risks of substance use, particularly the potential presence of deadly fentanyl in illicit drugs. The data also highlight the significance of delaying the initiation of substance use among young individuals, as even a one-year delay can have long-term benefits.

When breaking down the data by specific drugs:

  • Alcohol use remained stable or declined.
  • Nicotine vaping declined in older grades.
  • Cannabis use remained stable.
  • Delta-8-THC use was measured for the first time, with 11.4% of 12th graders reporting use in the past year.

While substance use levels remained steady or decreased, the focus should also be on the increasing danger posed by certain substances. The survey findings underscore the importance of ongoing efforts to educate and inform young people about the risks associated with substance use.

For more detailed information, the Monitoring the Future data tables are available online.


Joan David-Leonhard

Joan David Leonhard is a recent Pharm.D graduate with a strong passion for the pharmaceutical industry and a particular interest in pharmaceutical media and communication. Her brief internship experience includes roles in pharmacy where she built strong patient-pharmacist relationships and a pharmaceutical media internship where she actively contributed to drug information articles, blog posts, social media engagement, and various media projects.
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