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Teen Health 411

Drug, Alcohol Use Leveling Off Among Teens in California

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Results from the 11th Biennial California Student Survey, sponsored by the attorney general's office, the state Department of Education and the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, reported a leveling off in teen drug and alcohol use, but a continued need to address the prevalence of heavy drug use and binge drinking (abuse).

The good news, the way things are not usually reported about teens, is that:
? 85% of 11th graders, 91% of 9th graders, and 96% of 7th graders do NOT abuse prescription and nonprescription painkillers,
? 73% of 11th graders, 86% of 9th graders. and 95% of 7th graders did NOT report excessive alcohol (or drinking to get drunk), and
? 70% of 11th graders, 81% of 9th graders, and 93% of 7th graders do NOT use marijuana.

OK, the more disturbing results were that we have some students in California that really need our help, among them are the:
? almost 66% of the 11th graders, 50% of the 9th graders, and 27% of the 7th graders questioned in the survey who had drank some alcohol in the last six months, and the
? 17% of 11th graders, 11% of 9th graders, and 4% of 7th graders who reported high-risk drug use (defined as "frequent" intake of multiple drugs, weekly or daily marijuana use, or the use of cocaine or crack).

Parents, teachers, school administrators and every adult concerned about kids need to be paying attention to these kids, no matter how successful their grades and social calendars look, because youth who start heavy use as teens are likely to continue into adulthood as addicts.

Photo credit: fortdrastic

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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