Perceived Availability of Drugs Among Young People in the US

"• In 2017, 46% of 8th graders and 63% of 10th graders thought that cigarettes would be fairly easy or very easy for them to get if they wanted some. In 2017 for the first time we asked about availability of cigarettes among 12th graders; 78% reported they would be fairly easy or very easy to get. A growing interest among state and local governments to increase the minimum age to 21 for the purchase of tobacco products suggests that availability may decrease for this age group in the coming years. Prior to 2017 we did not ask 12th graders about the availability of cigarettes because we assumed they were almost universally available to this age group.

"• In 2017 MTF asked for the first time about the availability of vaping devices and e-liquids containing nicotine. In 8th grade the percentage who reported they could fairly or very easily get a vaping device was 44% and for e-liquids with nicotine it was 37%. The respective availability levels in 10th grade were 66% and 61%, and in 12th grade they were 78% and 75%. In all grades these availability levels were similar to the availability levels for cigarettes.

"• The great majority of teens see alcohol as readily available: In 2017, 53% of 8th graders, 72% of 10th graders, and 87% of 12th graders said it would be fairly easy or very easy to get.

"• Drug availability levels are far lower in 8th grade. Even so, marijuana was described as readily available by 35% of 8th graders in 2017, followed by steroids and tranquilizers (both at 12%), amphetamines (11%), cocaine powder and crack (both at 10%), sedatives (barbiturates) and narcotics other than heroin and heroin (both 9%), MDMA (ecstasy, Molly) (8%), crystal methamphetamine (ice) (7%), LSD (6%), and PCP (5%).

"• Marijuana appears to be readily available to the great majority of 12th graders; in 2017, 80% reported that they think it would be very easy or fairly easy to get—far higher than the proportion who reported ever having used it (45%). Marijuana has the highest availability level of all illicit substances in this grade.

"• There is a considerable drop in availability after marijuana, cigarettes, and vaping; the next most readily available class of drugs for 12th graders is amphetamines, with 38% saying these drugs would be very or fairly easy to get, followed by narcotics other than heroin (36%).

"• Between 18% and 29% of 12th graders perceived the following as readily available: MDMA (ecstasy) (29%), hallucinogens other than LSD (28%), cocaine (27%), LSD (26%), sedatives (barbiturates) (23%), cocaine powder (21%), steroids (20%), heroin (19%) and crack (18%).

"• Crystal methamphetamine (ice), tranquilizers, and PCP were reported as readily available by smaller but still substantial minorities of 12th graders in 2017 (14%, 15%, and 11%, respectively)."


Miech, R. A., Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E., & Patrick, M. E. (2018). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2017: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan. Available at