July, 20 2018

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Overall drug use by teenagers declines

Although some trends continue to concern researchers, overall drug use among teens in the United States continues to decline.

That is the findings of an annual survey of secondary school students sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and conducted by research scientists at the University of Michigan.

Eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders who reported using illicit drugs over the last 12 months continued a gradual decline in 2004, a trend that began in 1996 among eighth-graders and in 2001 among 10th and 12th graders, according to the 2004 Monitoring the Future survey released Dec. 21.

Those drugs reported as declining in use include marijuana, ecstasy, amphetamines, methamphetamine, PCP, Vicodin, ketamine and anabolic steroids.

The number of teens who reported a negative view of marijuana increased, according to the study's principal investigator, University of Michigan researcher Lloyd Johnston.

"Quite possibly, the media campaign aimed at marijuana use that has been undertaken by the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, in collaboration with the Partnership for a Drug Free America, has been having its intended effect," Johnston said. "I am not aware of any other social influence process that could explain these changes in how young people view marijuana."

Ecstasy use had seen a sharp increase in recent years, Johnston said. Over the last two years, however, use of the popular club drug fell by more than half among 10th- and 12th-graders.

Use of LSD and other hallucinogens, crack and powder cocaine, heroin and other narcotics, sedatives and the so-called "date rape" drugs rohypnol and GHB remained statistically unchanged, according to the survey.

Two drug categories, inhalants and Oxycontin, showed an increase in use.

The increase in inhalant use was confined to eighth- graders, although fewer students surveyed over the past three years believe inhalants are dangerous, possibly explaining a rebound in use, Johnston said.

"This turnaround in their use continues to suggest the need for greater attention to the dangers of inhalant use in our media messages and in-school prevention PROGRAMs," he said.

Surveyors in 2002 added to the study Oxycontin, a powerful synthetic painkiller. Although not statistically significant, the drug's use among 12th-graders increased by 1 percent between 2002 and 2004, giving cause for concern, Johnston said.

"Considering the addictive potential of this drug, ... we think these are disturbingly high rates of involvement by American young people," he said.

The survey also looks at TEEN alcohol use.

Alcohol use among teens dropped after Sept. 11, 2001. In 2004, however, alcohol use indicators among 12th-graders showed a slight increase, so slight in fact that researchers drew no conclusions, preferring to wait for another full year of data before making a determination, Johnston said.

The Monitoring the Future survey began in 1975 with a survey of high SCHOOL seniors. Surveyors in 1991 added eighth- and 10th-graders to the study. This year's results are based on the interviews of more than 49,000 students in 406 public and private secondary schools in the continental United States.

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