Newsbrief: Kids Are Consuming More Alcohol, Cigarettes, Cocaine, but Are Less Reckless, Says CDC 7/5/02

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At least they aren't shooting us. The Center for Disease Control last week released its latest annual survey of "youth risk behavior," and the findings reveal a youth population still eager to experiment with alcohol, cigarettes and illicit drugs, but more likely to buckle up behind the wheel and less likely to be packing heat.

The survey found that almost one out of ten high school students had used cocaine and 4.2% had used within the past 30 days, marking a dramatic increase in high school cocaine use over the past decade. Heroin, methamphetamine, steroid and injection drug usage also rose, while marijuana use decreased slightly since last year.

On the other hand, the report found that students were wearing seat belts more often, riding with a driver who had consumed alcohol less often and carrying weapons less often. Fewer teenagers have had sex, yet more are wearing condoms, though condom use stopped rising in 1999.

The trade-off between increased high school drug use and decreased levels of violent or reckless behavior could save teenage lives. The CDC identified the four most likely causes of death for those aged 10 to 25 years of age as motor-vehicle crashes, other intentional injuries, homicide and suicide. Though suicide rates remain steady, the increase in seat-belt use and decrease in riding with a drunk driver are likely to reduce fatalities due to motor-vehicle crashes and the decrease in violent behavior will likely mean fewer homicides. The most recent available data, from 1999, suggest that use of all legal and illegal drugs other than alcohol contributes to less than 1% of all deaths in the United States. That rate doubles, however, when alcohol is included.

Visit http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5104a1.htm to read the CDC report online.

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