The health and well-being of Marylands young people has been a primary concern of the multiple State agencies and organizations charged with planning and delivering programs to youth, particularly as it relates to the prevention and treatment of substance abuse. In order to provide prevention planning information on the extent of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use in the high school population, the Maryland Drug Abuse Administration conducted the first adolescent survey of public school youth in 1973. Since 1992, the Maryland Adolescent Survey (MAS) has been a primary method of obtaining information about students use of and attitudes toward use of substances. Conducted by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), with joint support from the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Transportation, the survey has provided an important resource for policymakers, program planners, and school staff.
Over the years, the survey has expanded the age and grade ranges of respondents while maintaining its focus on substance use by young people. The initial survey examined use patterns only among tenth graders. The present study includes students in grades six, eight, ten, and twelve. The content of the survey has also expanded over time. The 1998 survey investigates current use patterns, information, and attitudes that are believed to be associated with substance use. It also queried surveyed students about their perceptions on safety, including whether they feel unsafe at school, going to or from school, and in their neighborhood. The addition of safety measures to the questionnaire provides critical and timely information necessary to planning and implementing the various violence prevention initiatives currently underway throughout Marylands schools.
In this report, information on the nature, extent, and trends in alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use in Maryland is evaluated within a national context. The MAS, a biennial survey, is designed to parallel the annual national survey, Monitoring the Future, conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institute on Drug Abuse. The chapter on Trends in Substance Use (Chapter IV) presents information about substance use among Marylands twelfth graders and compares Maryland statistics to national data. Previous comparisons have shown Maryland to be similar to the nation in adolescents usage patterns.
The results of the 1998 MAS are intended to assist in program planning efforts, including determining priorities and resource allocations, identifying specific objectives, and developing effective prevention strategies by government agencies and the community. In particular, the survey findings will help support MSDEs school safety programs and initiatives. For example, survey findings may be used by program planners in their formulation of answers to fundamental policy questions such as "Where are we now in relation to where we want to go?" or "Where have programs made a difference?" In addition, survey data may be used to identify specific substance use problems or safety issues among particular student populations or to identify opportunities for improving prevention education.
Changes in the content of the questionnaire, sampling methods, and target population over the past 23 years require that trend statistics be interpreted carefully within the unique parameters of each survey. To assist in this interpretation, the report generated as a result of each survey contains a detailed description of the survey administration procedures used, sampling strategy, and the actual survey items.
The sampling strategy used for the 1994, 1996, and 1998 surveys permits generalizations about usage patterns at the local school system level as well as the state level. The survey data, however, can only be generalized to youth in public schools; they cannot be generalized to adolescents of a comparable age who do not attend school. Each school system may also examine use trends of specific substances within its own population over the 1996 and 1998 MAS administrations.
This report presents the findings of the 1998 MAS and is divided into two main sections. The first section describes the research methodology, including the sampling design, characteristics of the population studied, and structure of the questionnaire. The remaining chapters of the report present the survey results from each section of the questionnaire. The report also includes appendices that contain relevant supporting materials to the survey. Included in the appendices are a list of schools not sampled, the survey questionnaire, administration instructions, and tabular results on substance use for each participating school system.