Survey Confirms Decline in Teenage Drug Use
Dec. 14, 2000 (Washington) -- There's now further proof that
the overall use of illicit drugs by American teenagers has now stabilized
following the dramatic increases seen in the early 1990s with the release of a
new survey Thursday. But while the use of most illicit drugs has declined, U.S.
health officials say further measures will need to be taken in order to stem
the increasing use of popular new drugs, such as ecstasy.
"This year's survey confirms that teens' use of marijuana
and most other drugs has leveled off and even decreased among younger students.
And we've also begun to have a positive impact on teen smoking," Department
of Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala announced at a press
Over the last year, the use of drugs such as marijuana among
eighth-, 10th-, and 12th-graders remained virtually unchanged for the fourth
year in a row, according to the survey.
Also, the use of any illicit drug by eighth-graders has in fact
somewhat declined from about 22% in 1997 to almost 20% in 2000.
The survey also found that drug use among 10th-graders fell
from about 39% to around 36%, and that the drug use among high school seniors
edged down less than a percent from about 42% in 1997.
The greatest decline was in the use of cigarettes. Among
eighth-graders, the use of cigarettes dropped from more than 17% in 1999 to
almost 15% in 2000. Similarly, the use of cigarettes among 12th-graders
declined to a little more than 31% in 2000, about a 3% drop from levels a year
But not all the news is good.
While the use of cigarettes, cocaine, hallucinogenic drugs, and
inhalants has declined, the survey also found that the use of heroin and club
drugs such as ecstasy -- although staying in the single digits -- is on the
rise. Among high school seniors, the use of heroin increased almost one-half a
percent from 1999 to 2000, and the use of ecstasy rose almost 3%, the survey
For the first time, there also was an increase in ecstasy use
among eighth-graders, according to the survey. The survey found that the use of
ecstasy by this age group rose more than 1.5% over the past year.
"We've paid particular attention to marijuana and
tobacco," Shalala explains. Blaming the increased use of ecstasy on the
misperception among teenagers that this drug is relatively safe, HHS is now
stepping up its efforts to educate teenagers about the risks associated with
ecstasy and other club drugs, Shalala says.
Still, the results demonstrate the Clinton administration's
overall drug policy is working, says Barry McCaffrey, director of the White
House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "The biggest problem we have
now is drinking," he says.