Drinking, smoking and drug abuse are on the decline among American teenagers, in some cases falling to the lowest levels in decades, according to the latest results from an annual nationwide survey.
About 1 in 3 middle and high school students surveyed in 2017 said they had used some kind of illicit drug sometime in their life. Two decades ago, that figure was 43 percent.
Likewise, 17 percent of students said they smoked cigarettes at least once, and 26 percent said they had been drunk. In the 1990s, those figures reached highs of 58 percent and 46 percent, respectively.
“The rates of drug use among teenagers in our country are the lowest they’ve ever been for some drugs,” said Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
A notable exception to this trend is marijuana use. The proportion of teens who said they had tried it has remained steady over the past decade.
These findings were based on a survey of about 45,000 students from 380 middle and high schools across the country who participated in the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study.
A full report will be published by the end of April. A look at some of the data released Thursday:
Marijuana: Teens have adopted a more accepting attitude toward marijuana, with 64.7 percent of high school seniors saying they disapprove of regular use. That’s down from 68.5 percent of seniors last year. Use among teens increased in 2017, the first time this has happened in seven years. More than one-third of seniors (37.1 percent) said they had used the drug at least once in the past year. So did one-quarter of sophomores (25.5 percent) and 1 in 10 eighth-graders (10.1 percent).
Cigarettes: Teens view cigarettes as dangerous. Just under three-quarters (74.9 percent) of 12th-graders said they thought it was dangerous to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, and 86.6 percent said they disapprove of smoking habits.
In the mid-1990s, 24.6 percent of high school seniors said they smoked cigarettes daily. So did 18.3 percent of 10th-graders and 10.4 percent of eighth-graders. In 2017, 4.2 percent of high school seniors, 2.2 percent of sophomores and 0.6 percent of eighth-graders reported a daily smoking habit.
Vaping: Vaping has replaced cigarettes as the primary nicotine delivery device for teens. At least 19 percent of high school seniors said they vaped nicotine in the past year, along with 16 percent of sophomores and 8 percent of eighth-graders.
Alcohol: A decadeslong decline in alcohol use came to a halt in 2017, with no significant change in drinking behavior for students in any grade compared with 2016.
Opioids: Use of prescription painkillers fell to new lows, even as the epidemic continues to plague adults.