ThE ChALLEN gE v7, n3
reliminary findings from the 1996National Household Survey onDrug Abuse (NHSDA) showdeclines in teenage use of allillicit drugs, alcohol, and smoke-less tobacco.While the overall use of drugsamong Americans of all agesremained virtually unchanged from1995 to 1996 (12.8 million users in1995 to 13.0 million in 1996), therate of use among 12- to 17-year-olds declined for the first timesince 1992 (10.9% in 1995 to 9.0%in 1996). It is reported that thedecrease actually occurred among12- to 15-year-olds, while no sig-nificant changes occurred amongthose aged 16 to 17.Important in thearena of illicitdrug use is the rateof marijuana use by teens. Eventhough the change from 8.2% to7.1% is not considered statisticallysignificant, it may well indicate areversal of the trend that has seenmarijuana use by teens doublefrom 1992 to 1995. “We should beencouraged by the end of the five-year rise in juvenile use of marijua-na,” White House National DrugPolicy Director Barry McCaffreysaid. But he warned, “Drug use byour schoolchildren remains unac-ceptably high. Fifty percent of ourchildren will have used an illegaldrug by the time they finish highschool.”NHSDA also shows that whiletobacco and alcohol use by teenscontinues to be high, there havebeen improvements. Alcohol useamong 12- to 17-year-oldsdeclined from 21.1% to 18.8%between 1995 and 1996. In addi-tion, smokeless tobacco usedeclined from 2.8% in 1995 to1.9% in 1996.There were still findings of teenage behaviors that cause con-cern. One is the news that moreteenagers are now trying heroin forthe first time. Since 1992 newheroin use has been increasing. Alarge portion of today’s new usershave been smok-ing, snorting, orsniffing heroinand most beginbefore age 26. Forthe 12- to 17-year-olds therate of heroin initiation is at an alltime high of 2.5%.NHSDA is conducted by theSubstance Abuse and MentalHealth Services Administrationand is based on a representativesample of the U.S. population overthe age of 12. In 1996, a sample of 18,269 persons was interviewed forthe survey.
he Commission on SubstanceAbuse Among America’s Adoles-cents, established two years ago bythe National Center on Addictionand Substance Abuse at ColumbiaUniversity (CASA), conducted thea national survey of teachers, prin-cipals, adolescents, and parents onsubstance abuse in U.S. schools.The survey reveals that drugs areprevalent in the schools. More thanthree-fourths of the high schoolstudents surveyed and almost half of the middle school students saydrugs are kept, used, and sold onschool grounds. Similar numbers(74% of high school students and52% of middle school students)report that a student had beenexpelled or suspended for possess-ing, using, or selling drugs in thepast year.Teachers and principals see thesituation differently from the stu-dents. Twelve percent of highschool teachers report seeing drugs
NATIONAL HOUSEHOLDNATIONAL HOUSEHOLDSURVEY REPORTSSURVEY REPORTSCHANGE IN DIRECTIONCHANGE IN DIRECTIONOF TEEN DRUG USEOF TEEN DRUG USE1st REPORT SURVEYING1st REPORT SURVEYINGTEACHERS, PRINCIPALS,TEACHERS, PRINCIPALS,TEENS & PARENTSTEENS & PARENTSRELEASED FROM CASA RELEASED FROM CASA
NEW USERS OF HEROINNEW USERS OF HEROIN
Chart shows the percentageof 12- to 17-year-olds who triedheroin for the first time duringthe corresponding years
Source: 1996 NHSDA Source: 1996 NHSDA
Two recent studies relate new findings