Published on January 18, 2011 at 10:46 PM
By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
According to the latest national drug survey, ‘2008 Australian Secondary Students Alcohol and Drug Survey’, more school students use the drug ecstasy, but fewer of them smoke. The report came out this Tuesday.
The report also found that among 12-to-17-year-olds drinking alcohol has gone down but 44 per cent of recent drinkers aged 16 and 17 are bingeing. About 82 per cent 12 to 17 year olds said they had alcohol compared with 86 per cent in 2005 and 88 per cent in 2002. Even then acting Health Minister Mark Butler was concerned regarding the increasing bingeing. “This just backs-up the government’s decision to develop the national binge drinking strategy and increase the tax on alcopops,” he said in a statement.
It found that cannabis is the most commonly used illicit substance with 14 per cent of all high school students aged between 12 and 17 having taken it at least once. Three per cent of 12-year-olds had used cannabis before, but that figure rose to 26 per cent of 17-year-olds. Six per cent of all students had used cannabis in the month prior to the survey and four per cent in the week before.
However older high school students are using party drug ecstasy increasingly. The proportion of 16- and 17-year-olds who had reported using ecstasy in the month prior to the survey had increased from 2.3 per cent in 2005 to 3.4 per cent in 2008. Only four per cent of all high school students had ever used the drug in their lifetimes.
Contrary to belief the report noted that the proportion of students smoking tobacco in the week prior to the 2008 questionnaire was the lowest since the reporting initiative began in 1984. Five per cent of 12- to 15-year-olds had smoked in the seven days before the survey and this was significantly lower than the seven per cent recorded in 2005 and 11 per cent in 2002. Among 16- to 17-year-olds the those who have smoked in the past week rose to 13 per cent. This was 17 per cent in 2005 and the 23 per cent recorded in 2002.
About 24,000 students participated in the survey, coordinated by the Cancer Council of Victoria.