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TitleNational Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975-2006 - Volume I, Secondary School Students
File Size4.2 MB
Total Pages729
Table of Contents
                            Cover Page
Title Page
Recommended Citation
Abbreviated Contents
Detailed Contents
List of Tables
List of Figures
Ch. 1--Introduction
Ch. 2--Key Findings
Ch. 3--Study Design & Procedures
Ch. 4--Prevalence of Drug Use
Ch. 5--Trends in Drug Use
Ch. 6--Initiation Rates
Ch. 7--Degree & Duration
Ch. 8--Attitudes & Beliefs
Ch. 9--Social Content
Ch. 10--Other Findings
Appendix A--Dropout/Absentee
Appendix B--Definitions
Appendix C--Sampling Errors
Appendix D--Trends by Subgroup
	List of Appendix D Tables
Appendix E--Trends for Specific Drugs
Document Text Contents
Page 1

School Students

National Institutes of Health

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Monitoring the Future
National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975–2006


Volume I

Page 364

Monitoring the Future

accompanied by an increased use of numerous illicit drugs, in particular marijuana. In the early
2000s, increased recognition of the hazards of ecstasy use appeared to contribute to a sharp
downturn in use of that particular drug.


Beliefs About Harmfulness Among Twelfth Graders
For many drugs, the level of risk attributed to use varies considerably with the level of use being
considered. Expecting this to be the case, we structured the questions about illicit drugs to
differentiate among “using once or twice,” “using occasionally,” and “using regularly.”
Questions about the harmfulness of alcohol and tobacco use also specify different levels of use
appropriate to those substances. The respondent is asked, “How much do you think people risk
harming themselves (physically or in other ways), if they . . .” The sentence is completed with a
series of phrases about drug use, such as, “. . . try marijuana once or twice?” followed by “. . .
smoke marijuana occasionally?” followed by “. . . smoke marijuana regularly?”

A substantial majority of 12th graders perceive that regular use of any illicit drug entails
a great risk of harm for the user. As Table 8-3 shows, 90% of 12th graders perceive a
great risk of harm from regular use of heroin, 85% perceive a great risk of harm from
regular use of cocaine, 83% see great risk in regular use of crack, and 82% for cocaine
powder. Between 57% and 70% of 12th graders attribute great risk to regular use of LSD,
amphetamines, and sedatives (barbiturates) (69%, 68%, and 57%, respectively).

More than half (58%) of all 12th graders think that regular use of marijuana involves a

great risk to the user.

More than three quarters of 12th graders (78%) judge smoking one or more packs of
cigarettes per day as entailing a great risk of harm for the user.

Regular use of alcohol is more explicitly defined in several questions providing

specificity on the amount of use. One quarter of 12th graders (25%) associate great risk
of harm with having one or two drinks nearly every day, nearly one half (48%) think
there is great risk involved in having five or more drinks once or twice each weekend,
and over three fifths (63%) think the user takes a great risk in consuming four or five
drinks nearly every day. Still, it is noteworthy that nearly two fifths (37%) do not view
even heavy daily drinking as entailing great risk.

Far fewer respondents believe that a person runs a great risk of harm by trying a drug

once or twice, which we refer to here as experimental use. Still, substantial proportions of
12th graders view even experimenting with most of the illicit drugs as risky. The
percentages associating great risk with experimental use rank as follows: 60% for
steroids; 59% for ecstasy, heroin, and ice; 53% for cocaine; 48% for crack; 47% for
PCP; 46% for cocaine powder; 40% for amphetamines; 36% for LSD; and 28% for
sedatives (barbiturates).


Page 365

Chapter 8: Attitudes and Beliefs

By way of contrast, only 18% of 12th graders see experimenting with marijuana as
entailing great risk (compared with 26% and 58% who see great risk in occasional or
regular use, respectively).

Just 9% of 12th graders believe there is much risk involved in trying one or two drinks of

an alcoholic beverage.

Eighth and Tenth Graders’ Beliefs About Harmfulness
An abbreviated set of the same questions on perceived harmfulness has been asked of 8th and
10th graders since 1991. Perceived harmfulness of inhalant use is not asked of 12th graders, but
is included in the 8th- and 10th-grade questionnaires. Questions about other drugs have been
added to the 8th- and 10th-grade questionnaires, including LSD (in 1993), heroin without a
needle (1995), smoking one to five cigarettes per day (1999), and ecstasy (2001). A question
about perceived risk of steroid use was dropped in 1995 because at that time steroid use was
rather stable, and it was judged desirable to replace the question with one about another drug. In
general, the findings for 8th and 10th graders are similar to those for 12th graders, but some
interesting differences are noted below.

The most important difference is observed for regular cigarette smoking. Unfortunately,
perceived risk is lowest at the ages when initiation is most likely to occur: while more
than three quarters of 12th graders (78%) see great risk in smoking a pack a day or more,
only 68% of 10th graders and 59% of 8th graders see this level of risk. The fact that
eventual dropouts are included in the lower grades might account for some of that
difference, but there are not nearly enough dropouts to account for all of it.

Relatively few students see great risk in smoking one to five cigarettes per day: 37% of

the 8th graders and 41% of the 10th graders. (Twelfth graders are not asked this
question.) Given these low proportions seeing great risk, it seems likely that the students
are not taking into account that a relatively light smoker runs a substantial risk of
becoming a heavy, dependent user.

Regular use of smokeless tobacco is viewed as entailing great risk by about 40% of 8th

graders, 46% of 10th graders, and 46% of 12th graders, which means that over half do
not see great risk of harm. Again, because this behavior is often initiated at early ages,
these figures are disturbingly low.

In contrast to cigarette smoking, the younger students, particularly 8th graders, are

somewhat more likely than 12th graders to see marijuana use as dangerous. For
example, in 2006, about twice as many 8th graders (49%) as 12th graders (26%) see
occasional marijuana use as entailing great risk of harm.

Tenth graders are most likely to see the use of cocaine powder and crack as dangerous.

This unusual pattern has been replicated every year since 1991. Perhaps 10th graders are
more aware of the dangers of these drugs than 8th graders. However, 10th graders are
less exposed to individuals actually using these drugs than are 12th graders, thus not


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Study Web site address:

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NIH Publication No. 07–6205
Printed September 2007

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