WASHINGTON - Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) highlighted recent data showing troubling increases in drug use among certain groups of minority teens, and urged parents and community leaders to act immediately to prevent drug use.
According to data released from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency's (SAMHSA), 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), there were significant increases in drug use among young African American teen girls and Hispanic teen boys between 2008 and 2009. When surveyed about their use of any illicit drug during the past month, both groups demonstrated increases in drug use of more than 3 percentage points, making them the demographic populations with the largest increases in illicit drug use between 2008 and 2009.
Specifically, drug use among Black/Non-Hispanic females ages 12 to 17 years old increased from 7.3% in 2008 to 10.4% in 2009, and drug use by Hispanic males of the same age group rose from 9.2% in 2008 to 12.8% in 2009, increases of 43% and 39% respectively. According to NSDUH data released in September, overall teen drug use increased between 2008 and 2009, with 1 in 10 youth ages 12-17 and 1 in 5 young adults between 18-25 reporting drug use in the last month.
"These data confirm that in addition to overall increases in youth drug use nationwide, certain minority populations are suffering from illegal drug use at even higher rates," said ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske. "As we continue to aggressively reach out to underserved populations with vital drug prevention and treatment resources, we ask parents, teachers, coaches, religious leaders, and community leaders do their part by taking action today to protect these at-risk youth groups from a lifetime of drug-related consequences."
ONDCP is coordinating an unprecedented government-wide public health approach to reduce drug use and its consequences in the United States. This effort includes increasing funding for drug prevention by $203 million and treatment programs by $137 million dollars, placing a heavier emphasis on early intervention programs in health settings, aligning criminal justice policies and public health systems to divert non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of jail, funding scientific research on drug use, and, through the Affordable Care Act, expanding access to substance abuse treatment. ONDCP has also revamped the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign to include a broader focus on substances most often abused by teens, including prescription drugs, marijuana, and alcohol, and partnering with communities to reach at-risk youth populations in rural, suburban, and urban communities.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy seeks to foster healthy individuals and safe communities by effectively leading the Nation's effort to reduce drug use and its consequences.