Every two years Marylands sixth, eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders are surveyed on their use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in order to provide state agencies and substance abuse prevention professionals with up-to-date planning and prevention information. This report presents the latest findings from the Maryland Adolescent Survey (MAS) about the extent and trends in alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use among adolescents. The report also includes comparisons with national findings and trends as well as data on protective factors such as knowledge, parenting behavior, and peer influences. The MAS asked respondents to indicate which of several potential negative consequences associated with alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use they had personally experienced; it also sought information from twelfth graders about impaired driving. For the first time, the MAS asked eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders to indicate how safe they felt at school, going to or from school, or in their neighborhoods.
Participants were drawn from the sixth, eighth, tenth, and twelfth grades in public middle and high schools in Maryland, using a multistage stratified cluster sampling procedure. This method allows the generalization of results for each grade at both the school system and state levels (where sample sizes are sufficient). The sample consisted of 22,140 adolescents, representing nine to 11 percent of the States enrollment at each of the surveyed grade levels.
The 1998 results show that sixth graders increased their use of alcohol and other drugs (other than alcohol and tobacco). All surveyed grades showed a decrease in the use of cigarettes, and twelfth graders decreased their use of almost all surveyed substances. Eighth graders generally reduced their use of drugs, with the exception of steroids, while tenth graders decreased their use of some drugs and increased use of other drugs, such as crack and methamphetamines.
While the results are generally encouraging, the findings still show that students use many substances. The use of alcohol increased in surveyed sixth graders from 1996 levels and declined in use among eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders. Marijuana use remained constant or decreased from 1996 across the four surveyed grades. Use of cigarettes declined across all grades. A number of the least frequently used substances continued to show very small increases in use, particularly at the sixth, eighth, and tenth grade levels. In conclusion, substance use among Marylands adolescents compares favorably with national use trends as reported in the most recent Monitoring the Future Study.