Johnston et al, “National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975-2013,”
Monitoring the Future (2013).
Logic of Inquiry (Reading WITH the Grain)
1. Nutshell Table 5-2. In other words, in one or two carefully crafted sentences, indicate the trend in annual use of drugs among students in grade 12.
2. Use Tables 5-1, 5-2, 5-3, and 5-4 to construct a chart comparing the rate of use of illicit drugs other than marijuana in 2013, in terms of lifetime, annual, monthly, and daily use. Make the table conform to the following template:
Rate of Use of Illicit Drugs Other than Marijuana, 2013
Now repeat these comparisons for any illicit drug, for marijuana, for alcohol, and for cigarettes.
3. Following up on question #2, what do these comparisons suggest about the pattern of drug use? About the risks of addiction? What can you infer about the motivation or practice of those who take drugs?
4. Table 5-5 abcd present lifetime, annual, monthly, and daily use of different kinds of drugs. What does this show about the prevalence of hard-core, highly addictive drugs among the general population of school youth? Take heroin for example.
Critical Issues (Reading AGAINST the Grain)
5. Last week we discussed the embedded assumptions in “Monitoring the Future.” Do the empirical data bear out these assumptions? Why or why not?
6. In interpreting the findings, what assumptions or judgments do the researchers make about drugs and drug users? Identify specific passages where these are evident.
7. What interests lie behind the research? In other words, who stands to benefit in the findings and the analysis advanced in the report?
8. What political uses do you think are made of the data?
Note that the Monitoring the Future website includes this statement: “The results of the study are useful to policymakers at all levels of government, for example, to monitor progress toward national health goals. Study results are also used to monitor trends in substance use and abuse among adolescents and young adults and are used routinely in the White House Strategy on Drug Abuse.
Also consider the list of Congressional Testimony.
9. Let’s return to the Introduction, 4th paragraph, and “unpack the assumptions” in the paragraph. Are the assumptions and claims warranted by the data? Why or why not?
10. To play devil’s advocate. Timothy Leary was a Harvard professor in the 1970s who advocated the use of psychedelic drugs to elevate consciousness.
A. What do you think Leary would say about the Monitoring the Future Study?
B. Suppose you received a grant from the (fictitious) Timothy Leary Foundation to study drug use among college students. Further, suppose you shared Leary’s view that the recreational use of drugs is innocuous or even beneficial. What research questions would govern your study? What questions would you put to students about drug use that were not asked in the Monitoring the Future study?
11. What “macro” or societal factors might help to explain shifts in the trend of drug use? Why do you think drug use peaked in the 1970s and trended downward later?
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As noted, the use of drugs amongst students in grade 12 reduces annually on a gradual basis. For example, from 1980 to 1990, the non-school bound students in grade 12 usage of drugs reduced greatly, while the school-bound reduced modestly (John et al., 2015). Thus, it can be ascertained that the usage of drugs in 12 grade, whether school-bound or non-school bound students reduces every year compared to other grades such as 8 grade....
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