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Digest of Education Statistics: 2018
Digest of Education Statistics: 2018

NCES 2020-009
December 2019

Appendix A.4. National Institute on Drug Abuse

Monitoring the Future Survey

The National Institute on Drug Abuse of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is the primary supporter of the long-term national study “Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth,” conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. One component of this national sample survey deals with student drug abuse, and its results have been published annually since 1975.

In this study, 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders complete self-administered questionnaires given to them in their classrooms by University of Michigan personnel (12th-graders have participated since the beginning of the study, and 8th- and 10th-graders began participating in 1991). The 8th- and 10th-grade surveys are anonymous, while the 12th-grade survey is confidential. In addition, beginning with the class of 1976, a randomly selected sample from each senior class has been followed in the years after high school on a continuing basis.

The annual sample for each grade is made up of roughly 16,000 students in 140 public and private schools, for a total of about 50,000 students in 420 public and private secondary schools. In 2018, the survey involved about 44,500 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders in 392 public and private secondary schools nationwide, and about 89 percent of the 8th-graders, 86 percent of the 10th-graders, and 81 percent of the 12th-graders surveyed participated in the study.

Understandably, there is some reluctance to admit illegal activities. In addition, students who are out of school on the day of the survey are nonrespondents, and the survey does not include high school dropouts. The inclusion of absentees and dropouts would tend to increase the proportion of individuals who had used drugs. A 1983 study found that the inclusion of absentees could increase some of the drug usage estimates by as much as 2.7 percentage points. (Details on that study and its methodology were published in Drug Use Among American High School Students, College Students, and Other Young Adults, by L.D. Johnston, P.M. O’Malley, and J.G. Bachman, available from the National Clearinghouse on Drug Abuse Information, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857.)

The first published results of the 2018 survey were presented in Monitoring the Future, National Results on Drug Use, 1975–2018: Overview, Key Findings on Adolescent Drug Use, at

Further information on the Monitoring the Future drug abuse survey may be obtained from

National Institute on Drug Abuse
Division of Epidemiology, Services and
Prevention Research 6001 Executive Boulevard
Bethesda, MD 20892