When last year's Monitoring the Future Study found that illegal drug use was down among teenagers, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) trumpeted the results as evidence that "when we push back against the drug problem, it gets smaller."
This exuberance contrasted with the official silence that had accompanied the results released a few months earlier from the 2003 PRIDE Survey, which found a marked upturn in drug use among adolescents.
The PRIDE findings included substantial increases in past-month pot smoking (from 4.7 percent to 7.1 percent) and heroin use (from 1 percent to 1.6 percent) among junior high school students. As the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) points out, the ONDCP's failure to comment on these data was especially striking because in 2002 it had proudly cited the PRIDE Survey to show that the government was winning the war on drugs.
Whichever survey is closer to the truth, MPP notes, both indicate that the government has not even come close to the goal set in 1998 by Congress, which charged the ONDCP with reducing past-month drug use among adolescents to 3 percent by the end of 2003. Judging by these surveys, the current rate is more than five times that.
Line graph (not available): Students Reporting Past-Month Drug Use