Source: Courier-Mail, The (Australia)
Copyright: News Limited 1998
Pubdate: 20 Nov 1998
Author: Sean Parnell, health writer


ONE in four Australian teenagers has used inhalants such as glues, petrol,
butane gas and hair spray to get a "high".

Inhalants are the second most common illicit drug used by school students
after cannabis, a survey has found.

More than a third of secondary school students, or 36percent, admitted to
having used cannabis.

The use of inhalants was more common among younger students, whereas
cannabis use grew from 13percent among 12-year-olds to 55percent among

Federal Health Minister Michael Wooldridge said yesterday that he was
shocked by the prevalence of cannabis use among school students.

"Clearly that's an area where Australian governments have to do more," he

State Health Minister Wendy Edmond said she was surprised cannabis use was
almost as prevalent as tobacco use among secondary school students.

The survey of about 30,000 students was conducted by the Centre for
Behavioural Research at the Anti-Cancer Council of Australia.

Among other findings:

Hallucinogens, such as LSD, were the third most commonly-used illicit drug,
with 14 per cent of 17-year-old students admitting having used them.

Almost one in 10 students admitted having used amphetamines by the time
they reached 17.

Four percent of students had tried cocaine.

Four percent had used ecstasy, although recent use of the drug was not
common among any age group.

Four percent of students reported using opiates such as heroin or morphine.

Ms Edmond said the researchers believed the results in the last three
categories may have come from the same children.

"It appears you have a very small percentage who are experimenting in a
range of things, or moving on from one to another," she said.

Ms Edmond, a member of the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy which met
yesterday in Sydney, said the State Government was committed to doing
everything possible to stem the use of drug use by young people.

The council was running drug strategy programmes aimed at preventing people
starting on drugs through education, as well as supporting efforts to
restrict supply of illicit drugs.

Ms Edmond said there was also a continuing commitment to harm minimisation,
conceding that there would always be young people willing to experiment
with drugs.

State Emergency Services Minister Merri Rose today will unveil a Queensland
Ambulance Service trial aimed at helping drug addicts break the habit.

Paramedics on the Gold Coast and Brisbane's southside will hand out
information brochures to patients resuscitated after a drug overdose.

Ms Rose said there had been a frightening increase in drug overdoses over
the past two years. She will use today's launch to send an anti-drug
message to students before Schoolies Week. 
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Checked-by: Mike Gogulski