Pubdate: Mon, 06 Mar 2006
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Pamela Fayerman
Bookmark: (Youth)


Depression, Bullying Likely The Reasons, High School Study Finds

Gay or bisexual high-school students are 17 times more likely than 
their non-gay counterparts to use crystal methamphetamine and other 
"club drugs," a study has found.

The study, based on a survey of 607 students aged 13 to 19 at 
Vancouver and Victoria high schools, found 14 per cent said they had 
tried crystal meth and other "club drugs" (so named because of their 
frequent use at raves and dances).

Study investigators suggested two possible reasons for the higher 
risk of club drug use among the 2.5 per cent of students who 
identified themselves as gay or bisexual -- prevalence of use within 
their social networks, or "problems with early self-identification as 
gay or bisexual."

The study, published in the current B.C. Medical Journal, shows 13.6 
per cent of teenagers reported using either crystal meth, ecstasy, 
ketamine or GHB, the date rape drug, but that most of the use was 
occasional or experimental.

Of the 27 students who said they used crystal meth, for example, only 
a handful said they used it daily or weekly.

Thomas Lampinen, an epidemiologist with the B.C. Centre for 
Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and the lead author of the study, said in an 
interview there is not a crystal meth epidemic in high schools.

The conclusion is based on the confidential, anonymous survey, 
conducted in 2003 when students in six schools completed the surveys 
in their career and personal planning classes.

But the trend for drug use to be so much higher in gay or bisexual 
students is a concern, Lampinen said.

It led him and his co-investigators to conclude that school-based 
anti-drug initiatives may not be as important in reaching regular, 
current, drug-using teenagers as programs that focus on street youth 
and gay or bisexual teens who are more likely to use drugs on a more 
frequent basis.

Lampinen said it's unclear what it is about the environment 
surrounding gay and bisexual teenagers that "tips the scales" towards 
drug use, but depression and being bullied may have something to do with it.

Drug-abuse research and intervention initiatives should focus on gay 
and bisexual students, who are more likely to use multiple drugs 
rather than one specific type of drug, he said.

Dr. Doug McGhee, medical director of the Victoria Youth clinic, a 
co-investigator in the study along with Dr. Ian Martin, a physician 
at Three Bridges Community Health Centre in Vancouver, said he'd like 
to get funding to repeat the survey to see if the data has changed 
since it was collected.

"We funded this survey out of our back pockets," he said, referring 
to the fact the three had no sponsorship for the study.

Before they undertook the survey, there was only anecdotal evidence 
of an elevated prevalence of crystal meth use among gay and bisexual 
youth. Their study was the first to ask about sexual orientation and 
local patterns of drug use.

Parents were notified by newsletter about the survey and were told to 
contact the school if they opposed their child's involvement. The 
names of the schools were not disclosed. Among other findings:

- - Alcohol consumption was most common, with 68 per cent of students 
saying they drank in the past year and 48 per cent during the previous month.

- - 28 per cent of students said they smoked marijuana and 20 per cent 
said they smoked cigarettes.

- - Crystal meth use was so infrequent that less than one per cent said 
they had used it in the past month.

- - The mean age at which students first used crystal meth was 14.7 years.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman