(Reuters Health) – High school students in the U.S. are a lot more sober than they used to be, a new study suggests.
The proportion of high school students in their final year who have never tried alcohol or drugs increased fivefold from 1975 to 2014, and surged nearly as much for younger students between 1991 and 2014, the study found.
“The message that substance use is unhealthy seems to be gaining in popularity and ‘sticking’ with kids,” said lead study author Dr. Sharon Levy, director of the Adolescent Substance Use and Addiction Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.
For the study, researchers examined four decades of data from a national survey asking 8th-, 10th- and 12th-grade students about their use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and other substances. Questions touched on lifetime use as well as use in the past 30 days.
In 1976, only 5 percent of 12th graders said they abstained from all substance use, meaning 95 percent of them had at least sampled alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or other drugs. By 2014, the proportion of these high school seniors abstaining from substance use had climbed to 26 percent.
A similar trend was seen for 10th graders.