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March 1, 2000

State Survey Shows Youth Drug Use on the Decline

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced alcohol and other drug use among Illinois youth declined between 1997 and 1998.

Releasing the results of the 1998 Illinois Youth Study on Substance Use, funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Ryan said the drop in drug use reverses a trend of increased use noted in previous surveys.

"The survey is a positive sign that our efforts are making a difference yet substance abuse is still the number on health problem facing our youth," Ryan said. "Drugs have a devastating effect on youth and families and we need to maintain a strong focus on prevention and educating children and parents about the dangers of alcohol and other drug use."

The study, conducted by Chestnut Health Systems, Inc. of Bloomington, surveyed a scientific sample of 4,810 youth in grades 8, 10 and 12 from throughout Illinois. The students were questioned about a number of behaviors regarding use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

Overall, the number of students who reported current use (past month) of either alcohol, tobacco or some other substance declined from 53 percent in 1997 and 49 percent in 1998. Sixty-seven percent of 8th grade students, 49 percent of 10th graders and 37 percent of the 12th graders questioned reported not using any substance in the past month.

Alcohol continues to be the most used of any substance, however, current use of alcohol declined from 44 percent in 1997 to 41 percent in 1998. The number of students using marijuana dropped from 26 percent in 1997 to 20 percent in 1998. Tobacco use declined from 33 percent in 1997 to 28 percent in 1998. Youth who used one of these "gateway" substances were likely to also use one or both of the others.

Inhalant use, which had increased in previous surveys, declined from 4 percent in 1997 to 2.7 percent in 1998. Inhalant use continues to be higher among 8th graders with 4 percent of 8th graders reporting past month use of inhalants compared to two percent for 10th graders and less than two percent for 12th graders.

"This report has some encouraging news about drug use among today's youth. It is clear evidence that the state's commitment to prevention in the 1990's is beginning to pay off in larger numbers of drug-free kids." Said First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan, chair of Futures for Kids. "It's critical that we continue to reach each new generation of young people at an early age before they begin to experiment with drugs."

For student who used alcohol or other drugs, the two key influences on quitting were family and friends. Risk factors for substance abuse are being addressed through community health and prevention programs such as Communities CAN, Teen REACH and Communities for Youth.

The results of the youth survey will serve as a benchmark for the "Futures for Kids" initiatives led by First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan. Futures for Kids focuses on coordinating prevention efforts under one umbrella. The program will coordinate state agencies, community groups and business initiatives to create positive changes for the children of Illinois.


Percent of students using any substance
in the past month

1995 1997 1998
8th Grade 41 41 36
10th Grade 51 53 51
12th Grade 61 66 63

Percent of students using alcohol in the past month

19951997 1998
8th Grade 32 31 28
10th Grade 42 46 41
12th Grade 54 58 55

Percent of students using tobacco in the past month

8th Grade 27 26 22
10th Grade 31 35 28
12th Grade 40 40 37

Percent of students using marijuana in the past month

19951997 1998
8th Grade 14 17 13
10th Grade 22 27 23
12th Grade 29 33 24

Percent of students using inhalants in the past month

19951997 1998
8th Grade 4 5 4
10th Grade 3 5 2
12 Grade 3 2 2


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