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Survey: Teen Drug Use Down

POSTED: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - 7:44am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 10:59pm

The National Institutes of Health reports fewer kids are using methamphetamines one of the most dangerous illegal drugs out there. But it's what's in your medicine chest that experts worry about.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse surveyed over 46,000 high school students and found most teenagers are not using drugs. But for those who are, there are some disturbing trends. Use of methamphetamines is down. So are cocaine, cigarettes and alcohol.

And there's no increase in teens using LSD, Ecstasy, heroin or "date rape" drugs like GHB and Rohypnol. "If parents, the schools, the neighborhood and faith based groups are involved in educating kids about drug problems, we reduce the problem," said Gil Kerlikowske director of the White House Office of National Drug Policy.

Still, one in every three high school seniors say they've used illegal drugs in the past year mostly, marijuana. The survey found more teens now think it's safe. "There are all these organizations that are fighting against - you know, they're fighting for - legalization of marijuana and things of that sort. That just throws kids off," said high school senior Arvin Ahmadi.

Prescription drug abuse is mixed. One in 10 high school seniors use Vicodin, that's less than last year. But more younger teens admit abusing the painkiller Oxycontin. And, new on the radar, Adderall, which seems to be replacing the ADHD drug Ritalin.

"Kids are using them for two reasons: to get high, but also as cognitive enhancers when they want to prepare for an exam," said Nora Volkow director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Also new this year abuse of Provigil. That’s a drug that keeps people with sleep disorders awake. And Salvia a Mexican herb that teens chew or smoke to get high. More than one in 20 high school seniors say they've tried it. One reason alcohol use is down, is because younger teens 8th and 10th graders say it's harder for them to get it.