Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Smoking, drinking, pot use fall among 8th-graders

Frank Greve | McClatchy Newspapers

last updated: December 11, 2007 11:39:44 AM

WASHINGTON — At ease, junior high parents.

More eighth-graders — trend-setters of future teen behavior — are saying no to booze, marijuana and cigarettes, federal drug and health authorities declared Tuesday.

Their alcohol drinking in the past year, as reported confidentially by kids themselves, is off 32 percent from substance abuse peaks of the mid-'90s, according to the widely cited Monitoring the Future survey of teens.

Reported marijuana use by eighth-graders in the past year is down 43 percent from its recent peaks in the mid-'90s, the survey found. Reported cigarette smoking also is down 70 percent.

President Bush, who in 2002 pledged a 25 percent overall drug-abuse decline among young people in five years, lauded the progress Tuesday morning. He thanked law enforcement officials, federal anti-drug agencies, school personnel, community groups and parents for their "promising results" in curbing drug imports as well as drug abuse.

"We are definitely seeing a decline in substance abuse among our youngest and most vulnerable teens," said Dr. Elias Zerhouni, the director of the National Institutes of Health, the survey's co-sponsor.

The survey found especially sharp drops for two vices from 2006 to 2007: Daily smoking fell from 4 percent to 3 percent among eighth-graders, and past-year marijuana use fell from 11.7 percent 10.3 percent.

Marijuana-use rates went unchanged among 10th- and 12th-graders from 2006 to 2007, though they were well off their mid-'90s peaks. Reported rates of non-medical uses of prescription drugs also were unchanged among older teens.

In the new survey, fewer 10th-graders told interviewers that they considered MDMA (Ecstasy) or LSD harmful. Reported use of both is up among 10th- and 12th-graders since 2005.

Some 48,025 students at 403 public and private schools were interviewed for the survey, which was conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research on a grant from NIH and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Monitoring the Future's findings have been a key drug-abuse benchmark since 1975.

McClatchy Newspapers 2007

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