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Among youths from ages 12-17, about one in 10 acknowledge illicit drug use within the past month. The government says drug use in that age category has dropped slightly since 2002, as has the level of alcohol and tobacco use. About 15.6 percent of youths in that age group acknowledge alcohol use in the past month and about 9.8 percent say they smoked cigarettes.
Wendy Roit, a teacher at Rockville High School, who helped coordinate the question-and-answer session from the school, said she's a fan of using a chat room to let students ask questions without being embarrassed.
"Being on the computer gives them the anonymity. It gives them the freedom from their peers' judgment, and it gives them the opportunity to really walk away from here with the truth, with the facts that they're going to have with them when they have to make decisions in the future." Roit said.
Nora Volkow, director of NIDA, said she was surprised by the number of questions about prescription drugs, particularly questions that centered on whether they were as dangerous as illicit substances.
"It's abundantly clear that there has been a significant increase in the use of prescription medications among adolescents, Volkow said. "It's also clear there has been a lot of advertising to try to educate kids that indeed these medications, when used inappropriately, are as dangerous as illicit substances."
And while there were loads of serious questions, some helped lighten the mood, such as the one from "Yeah um, kay" at Sanborn Regional High School in New Hampshire: "Are you guys doctors or recovering alcoholics/drug addicts?"
"Hi there!," replied Richard Denisco. "We all have advanced degrees such as masters degrees, PhD.'s and MD's. We have all worked in the addiction field in some capacity -- some as counselors, and some as recovering addicts. This allows us to give you the 'real story' and not just some information from a book. Thanks for your question."
On the Net: National Institute on Drug Abuse:
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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