Majority of High Schoolers Found To Drink Alcohol

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More than half of all high-school students have consumed alcohol recently, and more than one-third report that they have recently had more than five drinks on one occasion, the results of a new federal study indicate.

The study, conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, also found that the vast majority of high school students have consumed alcohol at least once, about one-third have tried marijuana, and nearly 7 percent have used cocaine at least once.

The study of students' drug and alcohol use was part of the C.D.C.'s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which questioned a nationally representative sample of 11,631 students in grades 9 through 12 about a range of health issues.

Alcohol use, the study found, begins young. More than a third of the students said they had first tried alcohol before the age of 12, and 92 percent said they had used alcohol by the time they were 18, the study said.

According to the report, male students were consistently more likely than females to drink and use marijuana and cocaine. More than 43 percent of the male students said they had five or more drinks at one sitting during the month prior to the survey, compared with 30.4 percent of the girls.

It also found that students were more likely to use drugs and alcohol as they moved through high school.

For example, while 9.5 percent of the freshmen said they had used marijuana during the past month, 18.5 percent of the seniors said they had done so. Nearly 28 percent of the freshmen said they had recently engaged in binge drinking, compared with 44 percent of the seniors, the study found.

Compared with the seniors who completed a national survey conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan, 12th-grade students who took part in the C.D.C.'s 1990 study were consistently more likely to drink and use marijuana and cocaine. (See Education Week, Feb. 6, 1991.)

The Michigan study found that 57.1 percent said they had consumed alcohol, 14 percent said they had used marijuana, and 1.9 percent said they had used cocaine during the month prior to the survey. The study, which included the responses of 16,000 members of the class of 1990, was conducted under a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In the C.D.C. study, 65.6 percent of the seniors reported consuming alcohol, 18.5 percent said they had used marijuana, and 2.3 percent said they had used cocaine in the month before the survey.

Students in the C.D.C. study were also more likely to report binge drinking.

Vol. 11, Issue 12, Page 12

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