Students Use of Club Drug Ecstasy Up 55% 

Students Use of Club Drug Ecstasy Up 55% 
Posted by FoM on December 18, 1999 at 08:11:56 PT
By Melissa Healy, Times Staff Writer
Source: Los Angeles Times
The use of the illegal "club drug" Ecstasy rose this year by roughly 55% among high school sophomores and seniors, surging particularly in the Northeast and in other urban areas where teens appear to be using the drug to fuel all-night partying. 
But some younger students focused more on pumping up than on partying down, driving a 40% to 50% increase in the use of performance-enhancing steroids among kids in eighth and 10th grade. All told, 2.8% of sophomore boys reported that they had used muscle-building steroids during the year.   Those are the latest findings from an annual survey of about 45,000 students conducted for the Department of Health and Human Services by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. The results were released Friday in Washington by a phalanx of senior Clinton administration officials, who found both good and bad news in the mix.   Overall, the study found that illicit drug use among teens was holding steady at a level just below its recent peaks in 1996 and 1997--with 38% of high school seniors acknowledging use of marijuana or hashish in the last year, just over 10% acknowledging amphetamine use and 6.2% acknowledging the use of cocaine.   Among all grades surveyed, alcohol use remained fairly steady. Asked whether they had consumed alcohol in the last 30 days, 24% of eighth-graders, 40% of 10th-graders and 51% of 12th-graders said yes. Asked whether they had been drunk in that period, 9.4% of eighth-graders, 22.5% of 10th-graders and 32.9% of high school seniors responded affirmatively. Researchers said they detected a "slight uptick" of binge drinking--consuming five or more drinks in a row sometime in the prior two weeks--in the lower grades polled.   "Overall drug use is down substantially among youth," said Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "However, it still remains at unacceptably high levels for all ages."   The growth of Ecstasy use among high school students--a trend that has been tracked only since 1996--comes after the synthetic amphetamine with hallucinogenic qualities made a strong early appearance and then dropped off for two years in a row (in 1997 and 1998). In 1999, however, its popularity appeared to be on the rebound, with 5.6% of high school seniors and 4.4% of sophomores saying they had taken the drug in the past year.   In the Northeast, where its use was highest this year, almost 10% of those polled said they had tried the drug in the last year. But in the West, which is largely rural outside of dense metropolitan areas like Southern California, 5% of high school seniors said they had used the drug, up from 4% the year before. Lloyd Johnston of the University of Michigan, who supervised the survey, said use of the drug appeared to span the socioeconomic spectrum.   Evidence of its increased use is consistent with reports of greatly increased U.S. border confiscation of the drug, which is made mainly in illegal European laboratories. The U.S. Customs Service reported that busts were up 700% this year.   Johnston said that the increased use of anabolic steroids seemed tied both to a long-term rise in young men's preoccupation with body size and shape and with the admitted use by baseball slugger Mark McGwire of a steroid called androstenedione. The surveys are conducted in the spring, and thus are taken during baseball season.   "As many had feared, we think it likely that Mark McGwire's reported use of androstenedione in the year in which he set a new home run record affected young boys," Johnston said. While he acknowledged that survey questions did not directly probe the link, Johnston added: "Surely it gave them the idea that it could make them stronger."   But, he said, there is evidence that McGwire's use of androstenedione--a testosterone booster that is not a controlled substance--appears to have reassured some youngsters about the safety of using steroids. Among 12th-graders, the only age group asked about the safety of using steroids, 62% this year said they believed steroid users risk harming themselves, physically or in other ways. That figure marked a significant drop from 1998, when 68% of seniors said the use of anabolic steroids could be harmful.   McGwire announced early this year that he had stopped using androstenedione, citing concern over the effect of his actions on young people. Published: December 18, 1999Copyright 1999 Los Angeles Times Related Article:Drug Abuse Among Teenagers Leveling Off - 12/17/99
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: