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State teens' drug use lower

Published Oct. 13, 2005

Florida's teen-agers use fewer drugs than their counterparts nationwide, according to a report released Wednesday by the governor's drug office. Although Florida teen-agers used drugs less often in eight of 10 categories studied, they consume hallucinogens and wine coolers at a rate slightly higher than the national average.

"Alcohol remains the drug of choice, with one in 10 senior high students using liquor daily or weekly," Education Commissioner Betty Castor told a conference of school health professionals Wednesday at Tampa's Omni Center hotel.

The report described the findings of a survey commissioned by the Governor's Drug Free Communities Programs and conducted by PRIDE, an Atlanta-based national drug prevention organization.

More than 133,000 students were surveyed during the fall of 1990.

Among the findings were:

Florida students are well below national averages in their use of "gateway" drugs such as cigarettes, beer and marijuana. These drugs are believed to have the potential to lead students into more serious drug use.

Despite Florida's location on cocaine transit routes, students reported higher usage of marijuana, hallucinogens and amphetamines. However, 1 percent of students reported daily or weekly cocaine use.

Some students begin to use drugs before age 10, but they are at greater risk between the ages of 14 and 15.

Students at those vulnerable ages said their parents and teachers talk with them less often about the dangers of drugs than when they were younger.

The report also contradicted the common belief that drug use frequently occurs at school, Castor said.

"As you probably know from being there, only 4 percent of students use drugs at school," Castor said. "They said they are 10 times more likely to drink beer at a friend's house."