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Teen drug, alcohol use at lowest levels in decade, survey says

Thursday, July 18, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Drug, alcohol and cigarette use among sixth- to 12th-graders is at the lowest level in years, partly because adults are doing more to keep their kids away from illicit substances, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Parents and teachers are warning students about drug use and encouraging kids to nurture other interests by joining extracurricular school and religious activities, the 2001-02 Pride Survey said.

The percentage of students using any illicit drug -- including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and others -- dropped to 22.3 percent, the lowest level registered by the study since the 1993-94 school year.

The percentages of students who said they drank alcohol, 65 percent, or smoked cigarettes, 36 percent, in the previous 12 months were the lowest in the 15-year history of the Pride Surveys.

The results, from data collected between August 2001 and last month, are the "best report on adolescent behaviors in over a decade" and may reflect a cultural reaction to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to the study's author.

"Following 9/11, Americans seemed to refocus on family, community, spirituality and nation," said Thomas J. Gleaton. "That renewed awareness shows up in the data."

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