National Study Mirrors Local Teens' Substance Abuse Rate, Officials Say
Marshall, Jon, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Jon Marshall Daily Herald Staff Writer
Teenagers are smoking more, drinking more and using more drugs, a new national study shows.
And the problem isn't confined just to older children or to those in cities.
Some of the steepest increases are among eighth-graders, the survey of nearly 50,000 teens by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research found.
Local principals and drug and alcohol counselors say Chicago's suburbs aren't immune to the problem.
"We tell the kids these drugs are habit-forming, but they don't realize how much," said Fox River Grove Junior High School Principal Terry Dahlquist. "If they start now (in eighth grade), they'll be addicted by the time they're 17."
For instance, workers at the Maine Township Center for Addiction have treated fourth-graders who have tried marijuana, Executive Director Leo Spreitzer said.
And a study this year of 8,708 Maine Township students showed 34 percent of high-school seniors were at moderate or high risk of substance abuse. These students use marijuana at least occasionally or other drugs sporadically.
"It just seems in the last six or eight months we're seeing younger and younger children," said Debi Leer, director of adolescent services for the Northern Illinois Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, which is based in Lake County.
Some of the national study's findings include:
- 3 percent of eighth-graders who are 13 or 14 report having tried marijuana at least once. The ratio of eighth-graders who say they have used any illicit drug has more than doubled since 1991.
- 4 percent of 12th-graders say they smoke cigarettes in contrast to about a quarter of all adults.
- bout a fifth of all 10th-graders and nearly a third of all 12th-graders said they had been drunk at least once in the past month.
The national trends mirror the results of a survey last year by the Illinois Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse showing rising teen drug and alcohol use.
That state study showed three-quarters of high school seniors have tried alcohol, more than half have smoked cigarettes and 45 percent have tried an illegal drug.
Principal Mary Ann Ross of Walter R. Sundling Junior High School in Palatine said she has noticed a marked increase in cigarette smoking among students over the past two years.
Most of the young smokers aren't lighting up on school grounds, but smoke before classes or carry cigarettes with them, she said. …