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Health & Parenting

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Drug Use Rises Among High School Students

WebMD Health News

July 19, 2001 (Washington) -- Drug use is on the rise among high school students after several years of declining use, according to new results from an annual survey used to help guide the nation's drug control policies.

According to the Pride survey, high school students (grades 9-12) reported higher use of marijuana, uppers, downers, hallucinogens, and heroin compared with last year's study.

Doug Hall, spokesman for Pride, says, "We are finding a really tough nut to crack among the older students."

Meanwhile, among junior high students, drug use appeared to climb slightly, but the results were not "statistically significant."

According to the new survey, 22.5% of high schoolers said they used at least one illicit drug on a monthly basis, while 35.3% used a drug at least once in the 2000-01 school year. By contrast, in the 1999-2000 year, 21.3% reported monthly use, and 34.3% reported yearly use.

The drug increase marked the survey's first discovered "reversal against progress" since the 1996-97 school year.

The results may steer federal policymakers to step up their drug prevention efforts with older teens.

The White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy says that it has primarily targeted students aged 11-13 in its anti-drug media campaigns. But Arthur Dean, chairman of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, says, "We need to expand upon these media and education programs and do a better job curbing drug use among high school students."

Thomas Gleaton, founder of the Pride survey, also says the results point to the possible need for increased efforts to target older teens in antidrug campaigns.

The Pride survey was conducted during the recently concluded school year and involved nearly 76,000 students in grades 6 through 12. It is the largest independent measure of youth drug use.

The survey also found that students living only with their father were more likely to use drugs than those youth in any other family configuration. By contrast, those students who lived with both of their parents were the least likely to report any use of illicit drugs.

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