Past Month Alcohol Use Among U.S. 8th, 10th, and 12th Graders Continues to Decline; Approaching Levels of Marijuana Use

Alcohol use among middle and high school students continues to decline to record lows, according to data from the 2014 national Monitoring the Future survey. The percentage of 12th graders reporting past month alcohol use decreased from highs above 70% in the late 1970’s to 37% in 2014, the lowest rate since data collection began in 1975. Use among 8th and 10th graders has also declined, reaching record lows in 2014.

While alcohol continues to be the substance most frequently reported by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, the recent declines have narrowed the gap between those reporting alcohol use and those reporting marijuana use. For example, in 1991, 25.1% of 8th graders reported using alcohol in the past month, compared to 3.2% who reported past month marijuana use. In 2014, 9.0% of 8th graders reported using alcohol in the past month, compared to 6.5% reporting marijuana use.

Percentage of U.S. 8th, 10th, and 12th Grade Students 
Reporting Past Month Alcohol and/or Marijuana Use, 1975-2014
SOURCE: Adapted by CESAR from Institute of Social Research, University of Michigan, Monitoring the Future National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975–2014: Volume I, Secondary School Students, 2015. Available online at http://www.monitoringthefuture.org.