Date: Tuesday, Sept. 12, 1995
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: SAMHSA Press Office(301)443-8956
National Drug Survey Results Released With New Youth Public Education Materials
Marijuana use among 12-17 year olds nearly doubled from 1992-1994, though it remains far below the peak reached in 1979, according to the 1994 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse.
HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala and White House Drug Policy Director Lee P. Brown released the annual survey results at a press conference today in a Washington, D.C., high school. At the same time, they displayed new public education materials designed to help young people stay away from drugs.
"This survey shows just how vigilant we must be to the constant and seductive threat of drug abuse," Secretary Shalala said. "Even though the survey finds a broad leveling off in drug abuse among adults, it also confirms that marijuana is once again making inroads among our youth. That is why we're recommitting ourselves today to new efforts to combat the myths and misinformation circulating among young Americans."
"The increase in the first-time use of marijuana by youngsters 12-17 years old should serve as a profound wake-up call to parents," Dr. Brown said. "Statistically, we call it an 'up-tick' in the numbers, but it makes me fear for the future of our children if we do not take effective action now. We must protect our kids to assure that they do not make the fateful decision to use illegal drugs."
The survey finds that since 1990, the percentage of youths 12-17 years old that believe there is great risk of harm in using marijuana occasionally has decreased. Findings indicate that monthly marijuana use among 12-17 year olds was at 7.3 percent in 1994, up from 4.0 in 1992.
However, in spite of the increase in marijuana use among youth, the total number of illicit drug users has remained constant since 1992. This leveling off follows more than a decade of decline since the peak year for illicit drug use, 1979.
The survey was released at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C., accompanied by the release of a series of new materials laying out the hazards of marijuana and other drug use.
"Marijuana is illegal, it is not benign, it is not harmless," Or. Brown stressed. "It's a very dangerous drug that can cause you to fight for your health and your very life in a hospital emergency room.
"Over the last three years, the Clinton Administration has recognized and drawn attention to the increase in marijuana use among American teenagers," Secretary Shalala said in unveiling the new materials. "We have challenged parents, teachers and leaders in the public and private sectors -- including media -- to be active and aggressive in the struggle against drug abuse. Today we are highlighting a new series of innovative materials designed to help in that struggle." The new materials include:
- A marijuana poster created in collaboration with the Weekly Reader, to be distributed to more than 200,000 classrooms.
- Three new Tips for Teens on marijuana, inhalants and alcohol which will soon be available through the National Clearinghousefor Alcohol and Drug Information.
- An article titled, "Drugs have No Place in a Healthy Life," sent to 1,000 schools across the country.
- A booklet for parents on drug prevention, available inNovember.
- A 13-minute informational video for parents will be sent to 16,000 school districts on Oct. 1, plus two booklets, which give parents and teens the facts about marijuana.
The Household survey also finds that the number of underage drinkers, which includes 2 million heavy drinkers, remains unacceptably high.
"Nearly 1 of every 4 Americans is directly affected by the alcohol or drug dependency of a family member, friend or co-worker, and over 1 billion cans of beer are consumed annually by junior and senior high school students," Secretary Shalala said.
In addition, for the first time this survey addressed substance abuse among pregnant women of child-bearing age. It showed that 1.8 percent of pregnant women used an illicit drug within the past month compared with 6.7 percent of all women aged 15-44. Survey findings suggest that many substance-abusing women of childbearing age reduce use during pregnancy yet often return to use after giving birth.
"Over 95 percent of the children born to women in demonstration residential treatment programs are born drug-free," said Nelba Chavez, Ph.D., administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "These programs save lives and tremendous health and social costs."
Secretary Shalala said the survey findings for youth show that "we need to keep up our guard and keep learning what works best in the treatment and prevention of drug abuse." She said budget cuts proposed by the House of Representatives would be "short-sighted. This is not the time to cut back on drug abuse funding ."
The HHS appropriations bill passed by the House of Representatives on Aug. 4 included only $141 million for SAMHSA-funded substance abuse and mental health demonstrations, which support innovative treatment and prevention efforts -- a 12 percent decrease from current funding.
"The proposed cut in SAMHSA's budget would effectively end federal support for developing new techniques and approaches for drug prevention and treatment," Secretary Shalala said. "These cuts would radically scale back drug prevention services nationwide and eliminate access to treatment for people who need it."
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration conducts the Household Survey annually to estimate the prevalence of legal and illegal drug use in the U.S., and to monitor the trends in use over time. It is based on a representative sample of the U.S. population aged 12 and older, including persons living in households and in some group quarters such as dormitories and homeless shelters. The 1994 survey was conducted from January through December 1994. SAMHSA is the federal Government's lead agency for substance abuse and mental illness prevention and treatment, one of eight Public Health Service agencies in HHS.