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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Adolescent Substance Use Holds Steady in 2022

Two teen girls blow smoke while vaping while teen boy in the middle abstains, holds his nose.

Photo: Aleksandr Yu/Shutterstock

The percentage of adolescents reporting substance use in 2022 largely held steady after declining significantly in 2021, according to the latest results from Monitoring the Future, a survey of substance use behaviors and related attitudes among eighth, 10th and 12th graders nationwide. 

In 2022, reported use of any illicit drug within the past year remained at or significantly below pre-pandemic levels for all grades, with 11% of eighth graders, 21.5% of 10th graders, and 32.6% of 12th graders reporting any illicit drug use in the past year.

Monitoring the Future, conducted annually by researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is funded by NIDA.

“It is encouraging that we did not observe a significant increase in substance use in 2022, even as young people largely returned to in-person school, extracurricular activities and other social engagements,” said NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow.

For the survey, students self-report their substance use behaviors over various time periods, such as past 30 days, past 12 months and lifetime. The survey also documents students’ perception of harm, disapproval of use and perceived availability of drugs. Notably, the survey results are released the same year the data are collected.

From February through June 2022, investigators collected 31,438 surveys from students enrolled across 308 public and private schools across the country. All participating students took the survey online, with 95-99% of respondents taking the survey in-person in school.

Adolescents most commonly reported use of alcohol, nicotine vaping and cannabis in the past year. Compared to levels observed in 2021, data reported in 2022 showed that nicotine vaping and cannabis use remained stable for all three grades surveyed. Alcohol use remained stable for eighth and 10th graders but returned to pre-pandemic levels for 12th graders in 2022, with 51.9% of 12th graders reporting alcohol use in the past year.

Illicit drug use, other than marijuana, also remained stable for all three grades surveyed. These data build on long-term trends documenting low and fairly steady teen use of cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and nonmedical use of prescription drugs, generally. Meanwhile, use of narcotics other than heroin, including opioids, increased slightly among 12th graders between 2021 and 2022. 

For more data from this survey—including student responses to perceived harmfulness—see:

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