Pubdate: Fri, 22 Dec 2006
Source: USA Today (US)
Page: 3A
Copyright: 2006 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Donna Leinwand, USA TODAY
Referenced: The survey
Cited: Marijuana Policy Project
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


WASHINGTON -- Abuse of the painkiller OxyContin by younger teens hit
record levels in 2006, a national survey says.

While most other teen drug and alcohol use continued a decade-long
decline, teen abuse of pharmaceuticals, including prescription
narcotics, barely budged, the survey says.

The annual survey of 50,000 high school and middle school students,
released Thursday, was conducted by the University of Michigan for the
National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Among high school seniors, the percentage reporting that they had used
prescription narcotics, including OxyContin and Vicodin, in the past
year declined from 9.5% in 2004, the peak year, to 9% in 2006, the
survey found. Among younger teens, OxyContin use rose this year: 2.6%
of eighth-graders and 3.8% of 10th-graders reported having used the
drug, up from 1.8% and 3.2% in 2005.

For the first time, the survey asked teenagers whether they used
over-the-counter cough or cold medicine to get high. One in 25
eighth-graders and one in 14 seniors said they had abused the
medicines in the past year.

"Clearly, prescription drugs have become more a part of the problem,"
says the study's principal investigator, Lloyd Johnson.

High school seniors saw the largest drop in overall drug use. The
percentage reporting any illicit drug use was 36.5% in 2006, compared
with 38.4% in 2005.

Regular marijuana use among teens declined for the fifth year in a
row. Among seniors, 31.5% said they had used the drug in the previous
year, compared with 33.6% in 2005 and 37% in 2001.

"It's great to have one-quarter fewer kids using drugs than there were
in 2001," said John Walters, director of the White House Office of
National Drug Control Policy. His office will design an ad campaign
targeting abuse of prescription drugs, he said.

Other drugs showing a decline include methamphetamine and crack
cocaine. The use of LSD, inhalants, cocaine, crystal meth, heroin,
narcotics other than heroin, tranquilizers and sedatives remained stable.

Researchers say they have new concerns about Ecstasy, inhalants and
prescription drugs.

The survey noted a slight increase in inhalant and Ecstasy use among
seniors and a continuing decline in the percentage of students who
consider these drugs dangerous, Johnston said. "It's a little
disturbing, and we wouldn't want to see a rebound," he said.

Older students showed the sharpest drops in drug use, which reflects
declines in previous years among eighth- and 10th-graders who have
carried their lower drug use with them as they age, Johnston said.

The survey shows that federal policies have little effect on drug use
in the USA, says Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana
Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that wants to
legalize marijuana.

"Our suggestion is to face the facts, to acknowledge that this war on
marijuana users has failed to prevent teenagers from using marijuana,"
Kampia says. "The federal government hasn't had a new idea in 30
years. ... What we've been doing for decades isn't working."
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