What Do Student Drug Use Surveys Really Mean?

By Males, Mike A. | Journal of School Health, January 2005 | Go to article overview

What Do Student Drug Use Surveys Really Mean?


Males, Mike A., Journal of School Health


Federally funded projects such as Monitoring the Future and PRIDE, as well as numerous state and local activities devote considerable resources to survey junior and senior high school students' drug use. (1) Monitoring the Future is a detailed annual survey of high school students, began in 1975 for 12th graders and 1991 for eighth and 10th graders, on issues such as drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, and other personal behaviors and attitudes. PRIDE, a congressionally authorized annual survey by the Parents' Resource Institute for Drug Education, surveys students in grades 6-12 on drug, alcohol, and tobacco use and related issues. These surveys generate the main, and often the sole, means by which drug education policies and programs are evaluated. Student surveys also represent the main measure of national drug policy design and evaluation, as noted by their prominence in the 2003 National Drug Control Strategy report. (2)

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Reauthorization Act of 1998 designated its main objective as "reduction of adolescent unlawful drug use (as measured in terms of illicit drug use during the past 30 days by the Monitoring the Future Survey of the University of Michigan or the National PRIDE Survey conducted by the National Parents' Resource Institute for Drug Education) ..." (33)

Lobbies seeking to reform drug policies and to legalize marijuana also preoccupy themselves with adolescent drug use. For example, the Marijuana Policy Project refers constantly to drug use surveys to argue that ONDCP's "War on Drugs" has failed because "the prohibition of marijuana in the United States has not curtailed adolescent marijuana use." (4)

A reported increase in student drug use can mean the end for drug education programs, as shown by the abandonment of the 1970s pharmacological education, (5,6) and the 1990s impetus to curtail Drug Awareness and Resistance Education (DARE) programs. (7) Conversely, even a small decline in student drug use is cited as evidence of policy success. For example, the claim that random drug testing of students by school authorities results in less drug use (a point on which the few existing studies yield mixed results) (8) provides the main basis for proposals by the ONDCP to promote testing. (2)

Yet, a larger question remains: Why are we concerned about student drug use? Does survey-reported legal and illicit drug use constitute a valid measure of student well-being and justify the importance attached to its levels and trends? Those who attach overriding important to survey findings argue that drug use by youth is associated with serious problems, such as delinquency, school failure and dropout, early pregnancy; greater odds of injury, suicide, violence, and other anti-social behaviors; and as future drug abuse in adulthood. (2) Other studies suggest correlations between drug use and unhealthy outcomes largely disappear when the relatively small number of frequent drug abusers with serious problems is evaluated separately from the larger number of moderate drug users whose behaviors resemble nonusers. (9,10) Monitoring the Future finds students who only use marijuana report behaviors and attitudes similar to those who report using no drugs. (11) The National Household Survey of Drug Use and Health reports the many Americans whose illegal drug use only consisted of marijuana are not major contributors to hard-drug abuse. (12)

This commentary addresses specific questions: Does student drug use as reported on surveys display external validity? Do trends in, and levels of, students reporting use of marijuana or other illegal drugs correlate with or predict trends for other problems, including those most often said to be associated with drug abuse?

ANALYSIS

Monitoring the Future (MTF), a project of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, has surveyed representative samples of high school seniors in schools nationwide for 30 years (1975 through 2004). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What Do Student Drug Use Surveys Really Mean?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.