36% Of Teens Use Drugs — Bush Claims Credit
Teens in the 2007 “Monitoring the Future” study reported that their use of most drugs either became less frequent or held steady during the previous 12 months. But researchers noted a gradual increase during the past few years in the number of teenagers using the drug known as ecstasy, following a period of sharp decline. They said the percentage of students who see “great risk” in using ecstasy has gone down in the past few years and theorized that students may be more willing to experiment with ecstasy because of a “generational forgetting” of the hazards widely associated with the drug when its usage peaked in the late 1990s.
The 33rd national survey showed the percentage of eighth-graders who had used any illegal drug at least once in the past year fell from 24 percent to 13 percent between 1997 and 2007. The percentage of 10th-graders in the same category fell from 39 percent in 1997 to 28 percent this year; and the percent of 12th-graders using an illicit drug in the past 12 months dropped from 42 percent in 1997 to 36 percent this year.
Now, first things first, I don’t credit the policies of George W. Bush with a significant decline in drug use. About the only thing that I can suggest is that teens, hearing the reports of Bush’s own alleged drug use, might have dissuaded them from using them! But in reality, there are often wider societal issues involved here, and a president who has spent so much time dealing with war and foreign affairs– not on drug issues– is unlikely to be a huge impact.
But why in the world would this administration crow about the wonderful situation of only 36% of our 12th-graders using drugs? Think about it. Go to your kid’s high school graduation. If the commencement speaker tells you to look at the couple to your left, then the couple to your right, and to note that at least one of your kids has used drugs, would you consider that a comforting fact? Of course, some will suggest that for most of them, it’s simply marijuana, which many to be fairly innocuous. But at the same time, nearly 20% of 12th-graders have tried a harder drug than pot in the last year.
At the same time, the study suggests that availability of some of the more popular drugs (marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, “other hallucinogens”– which I understand likely means shrooms) is roughly equal to levels seen in 1997. These drugs aren’t harder to get, which is something that might indicate a win in the War on (some) Drugs.
Is this anything other than an indication that the War on (some) Drugs is not only a failure, but is such a glaring failure that we need to try something new? At the very least, it’s not a day that Bush should be standing in a tie-dyed t-shirt before a bright-colored “mission accomplished” banner talking about how much improvement he’s making.