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Study Shows Significant Decline in Drug Use Among US Teens


A new study shows American teenagers are getting the message about the dangers of illegal drugs. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports the government-funded survey shows a significant overall decline in illicit drug abuse.

The study shows an overall decline of about 24 percent between 2001 and 2007 in the use of illegal drugs by American teenagers.

At the White House, President Bush welcomed the news.

"Because Americans took action, today there are an estimated 860,000 fewer children using drugs than six years ago. Because Americans took action, because grassroots activists stood up and said, 'We have had enough,' because law enforcement worked hard - communities are safer, families are stronger, and more children have the hope of a healthy and happy life," he said.

Mr. Bush cited enhanced efforts to curb the flow of drugs into the United States from Colombia and Mexico. He also praised the work of police departments across the country, saying they are going after drug peddlers in America's neighborhoods.

But the president went on to stress that cutting the supply is only part of the answer to the problem of teenage drug abuse.

"If we have people - fewer people using, there is not going to be a need to supply as much," he said. "On the front lines of this efforts are parents, are teachers, are counselors who are sending our kids a clear message: Drug use is not fun, it is not glamorous, it is harmful."

The statistics on drug use were contained in an annual study of the behavior, attitudes and values of American teens conducted by scientists at the University of Michigan with funding from the U.S. government.

Each year, they survey about 50,000 young people between the ages of roughly 13 through 18.

This year's survey shows the sharpest decline in illicit drug use is among the youngest teens, with the biggest cuts in the use of marijuana and stimulants.

But the authors of the study warn that much more attention must be paid to the abuse of legal drugs that teens find in their own homes, such as cold and cough medicine and strong prescription medications for pain.

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