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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 7:50 EDT

New National Survey Shows Continued Decline in Youth Substance Abuse

September 4, 2008

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 /PRNewswire/ — Current illicit drug use among teens is continuing to decline, according to a new report by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released today. The study also shows positive signs that teens are seeing the dangers of abusing prescription drugs and methamphetamine and are pushing back. Among youth ages 12-17, the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the Nation’s largest substance use survey, shows that the significant decline in overall past month illicit drug use that began in 2002 continued through 2007, from 11.6 percent to 9.5 percent.

The survey, released at the start of the 19th Annual National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, shows that the reductions in youth drug use occurred for nearly every type of illicit drug including marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, LSD, and Ecstasy. The survey also shows dramatic declines in meth use, down by 67 percent (from 0.3% to 0.1%) and prescription drug abuse among teens, which declined overall by 18 percent, from 4 percent to 3.3 percent between 2002-2007.

Both declines come in the wake of Federal efforts by the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of these specific drugs through large scale public education efforts. The anti-meth campaign launched in 2007 and included advertising and public education outreach to raise awareness about the dangers of meth and provide information about the availability of meth treatment. Building on this campaign, ONDCP is launching a new meth Open Letter advertisement, “Rebuild After Meth,” highlighting the message that meth treatment is available and works. The ad appears nationally today and next week in USA Today and runs in 62 newspapers in 18 states, as well as regional insertions in national magazines throughout the rest of September.

Earlier this year, ONDCP launched the first major effort to educate parents about teen prescription drug abuse. This national public awareness campaign began with advertising during this year’s Super Bowl and included broadcast, print, and online advertising, community outreach, and new print and online resources to help parents and communities combat the troubling trend of teen prescription drug abuse.

“Our message about marijuana and other street drugs is getting through to teens who are pushing back against drug use,” said Director of National Drug Control Policy, John P. Walters. “And we are particularly encouraged by the declines in meth use and prescription drug abuse. The Media Campaign is working tirelessly to alert and educate parents and influencers to the dangers these drugs pose and, in the case of prescription drugs, parents’ unique role in controlling them. We must keep the focus on the dangerous trend of prescription drug abuse or we risk losing the gains we are making in keeping teens from abusing these drugs.”

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

“According to Media Campaign tracking surveys, parents’ awareness of teen prescription drug abuse has doubled since the campaign launched in early February and they are more likely to take action with their teens, but we need to redouble our efforts to keep attention on this troubling trend,” said Robert W. Denniston, Director of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. “Teens wrongly believe that prescription drugs may be safer to abuse because they are prescribed by a doctor and they have easy access to them, most often getting them for free from home or from the homes of friends and family.”

The new NSDUH survey also shows that from 2002 to 2007 there were declines in the rate of current drug use in nearly every category among 12-17-year-olds. Current marijuana use among this age group declined from 8.2 percent in 2002 to 6.7 percent in 2007. Most of this decline occurred between 2002 and 2005, when the rate reached 6.8 percent. The level of alcohol use also dropped among those aged 12 to 17, from 17.6 percent in 2002 to 15.9 percent in 2007.

   Other declines revealed by the survey include:   -- Cocaine: down 33 percent (from 0.6% to 0.4%);   -- Hallucinogens: down 30 percent (from 1.0% to 0.7%);   -- LSD: down 50 percent (from 0.2% to 0.1%);   -- Ecstasy: down 40 percent (from 0.5% to 0.3%);   -- Pain relievers: down 16 percent (from 3.2% to 2.7%);   -- Stimulants: down 38 percent (from 0.8% to 0.5%);   -- Cigarettes: down by one-fourth (from 13.0% to 9.8%).    

Parents are the most important influence on their teen’s decision about drug use. Parents need to communicate their expectations about drug use and set clear rules and consequences for breaking them. For more information about how to more effectively monitor your teen and keep them safe from drugs go to: http://www.theantidrug.com/.

NSDUH is a scientifically conducted annual survey of approximately 67,500 people throughout the country. Due to its size and statistical accuracy it is the nation’s primary source of information on the levels of illicit drug, alcohol, and tobacco use as well as certain mental health conditions.

Since its inception in 1998, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has been authorized by Congress to reduce and prevent teen drug use. For more information on the ONDCP National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, visit http://www.theantidrug.com/.

Office of National Drug Control Policy

CONTACT: Jennifer de Vallance of ONDCP, +1-202-395-6618; or RosannaMaietta of Fleishman-Hillard, +1-202-828-9706, for ONDCP

Web site: http://www.theantidrug.com/