Decline in drug use continues across nation, study shows

October 05, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

WASHINGTON -- Drug abuse continued a five-year decline this year, especially among young teen-agers, according to a survey released yesterday by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

"These children have grown up hearing and seeing anti-drug messages in the media, in their classrooms and in their homes, and it's paying off," said James E. Burke, chairman of the group, a non-profit coalition of business and community leaders.

The group has sponsored a public service advertising campaign best known for its fried-egg commercial: "This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?"

The group's survey, which has been conducted each year since 1987 by pollster Gordon S. Black of Rochester, N.Y., tracks attitudes toward, exposure to and use of drugs. The 1991 survey included 8,953 interviews nationwide.

Among the findings:

* Among 13-year-olds, 7.8 percent admitted trying marijuana in 1991, down from 16.3 percent in 1987. Among 17-year-olds, 47.6 percent admitted trying marijuana this year, down from 57.6 percent in 1987.

* Also among 13-year-olds, 2.6 percent admitted trying cocaine in 1991, down from 8.4 percent in 1987. Among 17-year-olds, 15.1 percent admitted trying cocaine this year, down from 22.4 percent in 1987.

* Percentages of drug use were slightly higher among black teens than among white ones, but there have been consistent declines in both groups.

* An increasing number of teens indicated a strong attitude against drugs, with more than 63 percent agreeing with statements that "people on drugs act stupid and foolishly" and "taking drugs scares me."

* Among adults, admitted "current use" of marijuana (within the past 30 days) dropped from 28.4 percent to 22.6 percent over the past five years, current use of cocaine dropped from 22.7 percent to 13.9 percent, and current use of crack dropped from 32.1 percent to 26.3 percent.

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