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Use of Illicit Drugs by America's High School Students 1975-1984

NCJ Number
Lloyd D. Johnston, Ph.D.; Patrick M. O'Malley, Ph.D.; Jerald G. Bachman, Ph.D.
Date Published
167 pages
This eighth in an annual series that reports on the drug use and related attitudes of America's high school seniors covers the high school classes of 1975 through 1984.
The major topics addressed are the current prevalence of drug use among American high school seniors and trends in use since 1975. Data are also reported on the grade when drugs were first used, trends in use at earlier grade levels, the intensity of drug use, attitudes and beliefs among seniors regarding various types of drug use, and their perceptions of certain relevant aspects of the social environment. The drug classes addressed in the survey were marijuana (including hashish), inhalants, hallucinogens, cocaine, heroin, natural and synthetic opiates other than heroin, stimulants, sedatives, tranquilizers, alcohol, and cigarettes. The findings indicate that the gradual decline in overall illicit drug use, which began a few years ago, is still continuing. Annual prevalence (the proportion reporting any use in the prior year), unadjusted, dropped from 54 percent to 49 percent between 1979 and 1983, and the new adjusted measure declined another 1.6 percent in 1984. Much of this decline is attributable to an ongoing drop in the use of the most popular of the illicit drugs, marijuana. Current use dropped from 37 percent in 1979 to 25 percent in 1984; annual prevalence dropped from 51 percent to 40 percent over the same period. In addition, the proportion of seniors reporting the use of illicit drugs other than marijuana has also been declining gradually since 1981. Cigarette use has declined significantly, and alcohol is showing signs of gradual moderation. The concern about drug use among youth remains, however, because nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of American youth try an illicit drug before they finish high school. 41 figures


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