New York, NY - The University of Michigan released their annual "Monitoring the Future" survey today. The survey polls nearly 50,000 American secondary-school students from almost 400 schools around the country about their drug use, specifically what drugs young people admit to having used in the past month. Despite the Office of National Drug Control Policy's almost $20 billion annual budget, the "Monitoring the Future" survey has consistently shown that nearly half of high school students admit to having tried marijuana before graduation.
"This survey provides useful information, but it's a terrible way to evaluate the success or failure of the government's drug policy," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Think back to the 1980s, when marijuana and other recreational drug use dropped significantly but crack addiction, HIV/AIDS, fatal overdoses and drug-related crime all jumped dramatically. It's about time that the federal government started focusing on a new bottom line for evaluating the drug war - one that focuses on reducing not drug use per se but all the death, disease, crime and suffering associated with both drug use and the drug war."
The Drug Policy Alliance advocates abstinence from drugs for young people, but also insists on the need for a fallback strategy for the majority of young people who say "yes" or "maybe" to alcohol and other drugs. That is the approach provided by the Alliance's Safety First program (www.safety1st.org
), a parent drug education project which has been named as an ally agency of the California State PTA.
"Ultimately the bottom line for parents regarding young people and drugs is not 'did they or didn't they?," added Nadelmann. "It's whether my teenager comes home safely at night and grows up to make me healthy grandchildren."