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Home > Research Articles > Teen Drug Abuse Down, Study Says


Thursday, December 19, 2002

By David Brody, Washington, D.C., correspondent

Observers hope new data on drug use is a sign of good things to come.

A new study reports a significant decrease in drug use among teens.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) researchers looked at teens in eighth, 10th and 12th grades, and discovered a drop in use of LSD, marijuana, Ecstasy, smoking and alcohol. Across the board, the "Just Say No" message seems to be catching on, and Glen Hanson, director of NIDA, said students are finally realizing the perceived risk that goes along with taking drugs.

"Increasing numbers of America's youths are weighing the scientific facts about drugs and their consequences and making better health decisions," Hanson said.

Drug use in the mid-1990s skyrocketed, but experts hope this new evidence of a decline will be the beginning of a trend.

"No child's life is enhanced or made more promising or made safer by more drug use," said John Walters, head of the White House Drug Control Policy office.

Kids won't get that message watching MTV, according to Charles Curie, who is working to get teens off drugs.

"The most important work to reduce use in America is done in living rooms and classrooms, in churches, in synagogues," Curie said. "Families, schools, communities and faith-based organizations shape the character of young people."

Perhaps the biggest success story in the study deals with the "club drug," Ecstasy — which saw the biggest drop-off in use. Researchers found that many more teenagers knew about the harm associated with the drug than they did two years ago.

The findings also indicate there has been a 50-percent decline in eighth-grade smoking, and the percentage of eighth and 10th graders using any kind of illicit drug is at its lowest level since 1993.

This study is considered one of the most respected in the country.

FOR MORE INFORMATION To learn more, please see a news release from the National Institute for Drug Abuse, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.