Drug Control Director Carroll calls for vigilance in the fight against youth substance misuse


On Friday, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Jim Carroll said that while information on trends in youth substance misuse show drug use has not increased in the past year, trends could show an increase next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reacting to the 2020 Monitoring the Future study, which tracks youth substance misuse, Carroll said rates of illicit substance use among young people remained similar to those in 2019. In some cases, the rates of misuse, such as marijuana vaping among 10th graders, actually fell.

“The Trump administration has dedicated a historic level of resources to ensuring the youth of our Nation are informed of the dangers of illicit substance use — information that remains critically important. This year’s data indicates that youth substance misuse rates, collected prior to the proclamation of a state of emergency due to COVID, are similar to those in 2019. While we were fortunate not to see increases in use over the past year, we must not become complacent. As the United States emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must be mindful of the impact of the pandemic on youth and families, and the toll drug use takes on our country and especially on our next generation.”

The study looks at tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, vaping, and other drug use in 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. This year’s report found that while smoking in the past month dropped for eighth and tenth graders over 2019 levels, it rose in 12th graders from 5.7 percent to 7.5 percent. The study found that nearly 1 in 4 high school students – 3.65 million – currently used tobacco in some form, down about 25 percent from the 1 in 3 students in 2019. For middle school students, about 1 in 15 currently used tobacco, down nearly 50 percent from 1 in 8 in 2019.

Illicit drug use in the last month rose slightly for 8th graders, from 8.5 percent to 8.7 percent, but fell for 10th and 12th graders – 19.8 to 18.2 and 23.7 to 22.2, respectively.

Daily alcohol use increased in all grade levels. In 8th graders, daily alcohol use doubled from .2 percent to .4, while the rate nearly doubled for 10th graders (.6 percent to 1 percent) and 12th graders (1.7 percent to 2.7 percent).