Teens’ Use of Alcohol, Tobacco, Illicit Drugs Declined in Last Two Years, Statewide Survey Finds
Use of illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco among California teenagers has declined in the last two years following several years of increases in the 1990s, according to a biennial statewide survey released Wednesday, the Ventura County Star reports (Cowden Moore, Ventura County Star, 8/19). The California Student Survey, conducted since 1985, was sponsored by the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs and the Department of Education. Investigators surveyed 10,351 randomly selected students at 112 middle and high schools statewide (Fletcher, Sacramento Bee, 8/19).
According to the survey, "[a]bstinence is at an all-time high," with nearly 75% of seventh-graders, 50% of ninth-graders and more than 33% of 11th-graders saying they had not used alcohol or illicit drugs in the six months prior to the survey, the Star reports. In addition, the survey found that marijuana use dropped by at least one percentage point among seventh-, ninth- and 11th-graders, with 11th-graders showing the steepest decline from 38.7% to 33.9%. Meanwhile, the percentage of seventh-graders who used alcohol decreased from 29% to 26% over the two years of the survey, although alcohol-use rates remained steady among ninth- and 11th-graders (Ventura County Star, 8/19). In addition, fewer 11th-graders reported heavy use of LSD and Ecstasy.
Jack O'Connell, superintendent of public instruction, said the results showed that state programs aimed at changing teens' behavior are effective (Sacramento Bee, 8/19). For example, the state requires that schools spend six to 10 hours annually educating students about illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco. But others, particularly those in more affluent communities, said their areas have not seen the reported drop in alcohol use among teens. Richard Simpson, assistant superintendent in the Conejo Valley Unified School District, said, "For our community, it would be foolish to say that alcohol use has gone down. It has not" (Ventura County Star, 8/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.