Pubdate: Fri, 15 Dec 2000
Source: Dayton Daily News (OH)


WASHINGTON--Teen-age drug use held steady in 2000, the fourth straight year
it has either fallen or stayed the same, the federal government reported
Thursday. Smoking dropped significantly but use of the club drug ecstasy
climbed for the second year in a row.

The annual survey, a study of teen drug, alcohol and tobacco use, had mostly
good news, with drops among eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders. But it also
found the number of high school seniors using heroin hit its highest point
since the survey began in 1975, and more 10th-graders are using steroids.

The survey of 45,000 students in 435 randomly chosen schools nationwide
found that use of cocaine and hallucinogens, such as LSD dropped, with
marijuana use unchanged from 1999.

The results were released Thursday by Health and Human Services Secretary
Donna Shalala and Barry McCaffrey, White House drug policy director.

"The national drug control strategy is working," McCaffrey said.

Despite success in holding back increases, "we must remain vigilant to new
threats, particularly that of so-called club drugs such as ecstasy," Shalala

After increasing through the mid-1990s, teen drug use leveled off--and in
some cases, dropped--in 1996. This year, usage was steady no matter how it
was measured--in the last month, year or lifetime.

The survey, which teens fill out anonymously, found that between 1997 and
2000: --For eighth-graders, use of any drug fell from 22.1 percent to 19.5
percent. --For 10th-graders, it fell from 38.5 percent to 36.4
percent. --For 12th-graders, it fell from 42.4 percent to 40.9 percent.

The survey also looked at specific drugs and found that 36.5 percent of
seniors had used marijuana in the past year. For 10th-graders, it was nearly
as high--32.2 percent, and for eighth-graders, 15.6 percent. Those figures
were all steady from 1999.

Marijuana use peaked in 1979, when just over half of seniors used the
substance. The low for marijuana use among 12th-graders was 1992, when just
over one in five used it.

Alcohol use remained widespread, though largely unchanged, with nearly three
in four high school seniors drinking at least once in the past year. It was
two in three for 10th-graders, and just over 40 percent for eighth-graders.

A smaller but still significant chunk of teens reported binge drinking at
least once in the two weeks before the survey. Thirty percent of
12th-graders, 26.2 percent of 10th-graders and 14.1 percent of
eighth-graders said they had binged, defined as consuming five or more
drinks in a row.

Binge drinking peaked in 1981 at 41 percent and the low was 27.5 percent in

Last year, 34.6 percent of seniors reported smoking in the past month,
falling to 31.4 percent this year. The percentage of eighth-graders who used
cigarettes in the past month fell from 17.5 percent last year to 14.6

There were a few danger signs, including an increase in the use of MDMA,
known as ecstasy, among eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders. Just over 8 percent
of seniors said they had used ecstasy in the past year, up from 5.6 percent
in 1999.

And among high school seniors, the percentage of seniors who used heroin
crept up from 1.1 percent last year to 1.5 percent this year--the first
significant increase in a number of years. That's the highest percentage
since the study began.

The proportion of 10th-graders who used steroids rose from 1.7 percent to
2.2 percent, the study found. Use in the past year was reported by 2.2
percent of eighth-grade males, 3.6 percent of 10th-grade males and 2.5
percent of 12th-grade males.

The survey also found: --The percentage of high school seniors who used
cocaine in the past year fell from 6.2 percent to 5 percent. Past year use
of crack fell from 2.7 percent to 2.2 percent, --Among seniors, past year
use of hallucinogens dropped from 9.4 percent in 1999 to 8.1 percent this

The study conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social
Research and financed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has tracked
illicit drug use among 12th-graders since 1975. In 1991, eighth- and
10th-graders were added to the study.

On the Net: The text of the study can be found at
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MAP posted-by: Don Beck