New National Survey Shows Continued Decline in Youth Substance Abuse

Thursday, September 4, 2008 General News
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 Current illicit drug use among teensis continuing to decline, according to a new report by the U.S. SubstanceAbuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released today. Thestudy also shows positive signs that teens are seeing the dangers of abusingprescription drugs and methamphetamine and are pushing back. Among youth ages12-17, the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the Nation'slargest substance use survey, shows that the significant decline in overallpast month illicit drug use that began in 2002 continued through 2007, from11.6 percent to 9.5 percent.

The survey, released at the start of the 19th Annual National Alcohol andDrug Addiction Recovery Month, shows that the reductions in youth drug useoccurred for nearly every type of illicit drug including marijuana, cocaine,hallucinogens, LSD, and Ecstasy. The survey also shows dramatic declines inmeth use, down by 67 percent (from 0.3% to 0.1%) and prescription drug abuseamong teens, which declined overall by 18 percent, from 4 percent to3.3 percent between 2002-2007.

Both declines come in the wake of Federal efforts by the Office ofNational Drug Control Policy's National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign toraise awareness of the dangers of these specific drugs through large scalepublic education efforts. The anti-meth campaign launched in 2007 andincluded advertising and public education outreach to raise awareness aboutthe dangers of meth and provide information about the availability of methtreatment. Building on this campaign, ONDCP is launching a new meth OpenLetter advertisement, "Rebuild After Meth," highlighting the message that methtreatment is available and works. The ad appears nationally today and nextweek in USA Today and runs in 62 newspapers in 18 states, as well as regionalinsertions in national magazines throughout the rest of September.

Earlier this year, ONDCP launched the first major effort to educateparents about teen prescription drug abuse. This national public awarenesscampaign began with advertising during this year's Super Bowl and includedbroadcast, print, and online advertising, community outreach, and new printand online resources to help parents and communities combat the troublingtrend of teen prescription drug abuse.

"Our message about marijuana and other street drugs is getting through toteens who are pushing back against drug use," said Director of National DrugControl Policy, John P. Walters. "And we are particularly encouraged by thedeclines in meth use and prescription drug abuse. The Media Campaign isworking tirelessly to alert and educate parents and influencers to the dangersthese drugs pose and, in the case of prescription drugs, parents' unique rolein controlling them. We must keep the focus on the dangerous trend ofprescription drug abuse or we risk losing the gains we are making in keepingteens from abusing these drugs."

Alarmingly, despite the decline in overall prescription drug abuse, as aclass of drugs, the abuse of prescription drugs continues to have more pastyear new users than any other class. In 2007, there were 2.5 million pastyear initiates of this class of drug compared to 2.1 million initiates ofmarijuana, the next most initiated drug in 2007. When used correctly andunder the care of a health provider, prescription drugs provide many benefits.But there are serious health consequences to abusing these drugs or combiningthem with alcohol or other drugs, as many teens do.

"According to Media Campaign tracking surveys, parents' awareness of teenprescription drug abuse has doubled since the campaign launched in earlyFebruary and they are more likely to take action with their teens, but we needto redouble our efforts to keep attention on this troubling trend," saidRobert W. Denniston, Director of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign."Teens wrongly beli

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