Survey Finds Teens Using Cigarettes, Drugs Less

Survey Finds Teens Using Cigarettes, Drugs Less
Posted by FoM on August 31, 2000 at 23:16:01 PT
By David A. Vise, Washington Post Staff Writer
Source: Washington Post 
Teenagers' drug use declined by 9 percent last year and by 21 percent over the past two years, mirroring the continuing drop in the crime rate, according to a major survey that federal officials released yesterday.The survey of 67,000 people age 12 and older showed that the younger a person is when he or she first uses marijuana, the greater the chances that person will become a drug user as an adult. Nearly 9 percent of those who used marijuana at age 14 or younger used drugs as an adult, while just 1.7 percent of people who used marijuana for the first time at age 18 or older became drug-dependent adults.
"The survey provides extremely encouraging news," said National Drug Control Policy Director Barry R. McCaffrey. "We are now seeing a clear trend: Teen drug use is down significantly and rapidly for two straight years."The survey also revealed a decline in teen smoking. Cigarette use among teens fell from 19.9 percent in 1997 to 15.9 percent last year.Donna E. Shalala, secretary of health and human services, noted that recent reports have shown a leveling or falling trend in illicit drug, marijuana and cigarette use among adolescents since 1996 or 1997, after a period of increases since the beginning of the 1990s."All of this is very good news," Shalala said. "But let me be clear: We have a long way to go. . . . We have miles to go when 14.8 million Americans were current users of illicit drugs in 1999. And we have miles to go if even a single young person is letting his or her dreams  and life  go up in a cloud of marijuana or cigarette smoke."Howard Simon, spokesman for the Partnership for a Drug Free America, said several factors account for the drop in teen drug use, including multimillion-dollar media campaigns by the federal government and private organizations, and greater dialogue between parents and children about the hazards of using drugs.Simon said that although the results of the household survey are encouraging in regard to teenagers, they highlighted a serious problem among 18- to 25-year-olds, whose rate of illegal drug use increased 28 percent in the past two years, from 14.7 percent to 18.8 percent. He said people in that age bracket began using drugs amid the crack epidemic of the late 1980s and early 1990s and do not have adequate access to substance abuse programs."If a group starts using drugs at a younger age, there is the possibility they will continue using drugs if we don't do more for people to find treatment," Simon said. "We need to get more access to treatment. That is an important part of reducing demand for illegal drugs."McCaffrey said the rise in drug use among 18- to 25-year-olds confirmed the need for early intervention with youth to prevent drug abuse among adults."Sadly, now that this age group has established drug use patterns, they and our society will be dealing with the harms associated with increased drug use and disease, overdoses, health care costs, crime and the like for years to come as they grow older," he said.Shalala said this year's National Household Survey on drug use is much broader and more precise than ever. Previous surveys used paper questionnaires and a sample size of just 18,000, leaving experts to make national estimates.The newly designed survey is interactive, bilingual and computer-based and for the first time provides breakdowns for the 50 states and the District.In the District, 7.6 percent of those interviewed said they used illegal drugs in the past month, while 5.3 percent of those in Maryland and 4.7 percent of Virginians said they used illicit substances.The study showed that in all three jurisdictions, binge drinking of alcohol in the past month by people in the 18- to 25-year-old age bracket topped 30 percent. Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks on the same occasion.Among those in the region age 26 or older, the rate of binge drinking was much lower, about 16 percent. Among teens, marijuana and cigarettes topped the list of substances used in the past month.Locally, teens registered a lower level of binge drinking  in the 7 percent to 8 percent range.In response to the report, President Clinton called on Congress to fully fund the administration's anti-drug and anti-smoking initiatives."While today's report shows underage alcohol use is still at unacceptable levels, it also shows that tobacco use among young people is beginning to decline significantly following a period of increases earlier in the 1990s," the president said. "These findings prove that we are successfully reversing dangerous trends and making important progress."_____Report Highlights_____ National Survey on Household Drug Abuse David A. Vise, Washington Post Staff WriterFriday, September 1, 2000; Page A03 Source: Washington Post (DC)Copyright: 2000 The Washington Post CompanyContact: letterstoed washpost.comAddress: 1150 15th Street NorthwestWashington, DC 20071Website: Articles:Survey: Youths' Drug Use Declining Shows Marijuana Use Has Not Risen In States
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Comment #5 posted by Bunny A. on April 10, 2001 at 15:35:06 PT:
My Science Project
I'm doing a science project this year in order to graduate from junior high school (I'm in 8th grade). It involved sending around a survey to find out who and who does not do drugs in my class, and among the 8th graders in my school. I was shocked by the results-Almost everyone that had filled out my survey (It was done anonimously) did SOMETHING, be it drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. I also discovered that ALL of the kids whose parents had not talked to them about what drugs do to you, etc.-DID, in fact, take drugs. So parents, I strongly suggest and urge that you talk with your kids about tis very serious issue. Thank You.~~Bethany AKA Bunny
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on September 01, 2000 at 19:23:26 PT
My 2 cents
I think surveys are created and worded to make the point a person or organization wants. Very simply a play on words. Has anyone ever met anyone that has been asked their opinion about drug issues? I know I'm no youngin' and I've never been asked. Peace, FoM!PS: I've never met a person under 18 that has been questioned either. Would they answer honestly too? I'd sure be afraid.
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Comment #3 posted by Tim Stone on September 01, 2000 at 15:43:07 PT
Controlling Information
The drug war establishment pretty much totally controls the information in this annual survey. There is a mountain of data and the ONDCP is under the gun to produce "results" from its recent media campaign. They undoubtably carefully wade through all the data, mention in the press conference only those data that tend to support the idea of use being down, while carefully burying all data that might suggest otherwise. As usual with these surveys, you have to look for the dog that _didn't_ bark.For instance, These annual surveys typically track illicit drug use in three time frames: recent (the past month) use, within the past year, and lifetime use. The only data trotted out in the above paean to success are the "recent" use figures. It is likely that the figures for usage within the past year are not so rosy, else they would have been touted also. I have no way of knowing, but it's certainly possible that while figures for past month usage might be slightly down, the figures for past year usage might be even, or perhaps up slightly. We'll never know, because the ONDCP controls all this info and can edit it whatever way it wants to create whatever public image it wants. McCaffery wants to go out on a note of success, and judging from the Salon article, his office might well fudge the data anyway they want, to make the Gen'l look successful. 
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Comment #2 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on September 01, 2000 at 06:04:04 PT:
Binge Behavior
I wonder which the General thinks is worse: binge drinking or "binge cannabis" use? Medically, there is no comparison. Binge alcoholism leads to blackouts, addiction, drunk driving, rape and unwanted pregnancy. "Binge cannabis" use may provoke a lot of giggling, undeserved appreciation of some inane ideas, and a pleasant sleep. Why is one legal and the other not? Are our priorities not misplaced? Where is the "War on Binge Alcohol?" 
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on September 01, 2000 at 05:58:24 PT:
Is this the same study that Salon talked
about? Namely, the one in which McCaffrey's bully boys cooked the books, switched dates, tripled figures as 'typos'...and lied to Congress about it all? Sure sounded like that to me when I heard Barry and Donna on CSPAN radio yesterday.God, some days I wish I was a reporter; I'd love to be there to ask Barry and Company the questions he's never been asked by the fawning, ignorant media that listens with bated breath to every goofy pronouncement.This is why I rarely watch commercial TV anymore.
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