- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2001

BALTIMORE (AP) Teen-age use of the drug Ecstasy has almost doubled in Maryland over the past four years, but fewer youths are abusing alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, according to a new survey by state educators.
Educators said they are encouraged by reported decreases in the use of more traditional drugs, but are concerned about the increase in the use of Ecstasy, a mixture of a stimulant and a hallucinogen that is taken as a pill.
"The 2001 survey brings us very good news," state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said of the report released Tuesday. "But even when the news is good, we have to be vigilant and cautious … waiting for the next drug or debilitating behavior to creep around the corner."
The percentage of sixth-, eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders who reported using alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana declined compared with the earlier survey, done two years ago in every category except one: eighth-graders using marijuana.
Drug and alcohol abuse by Maryland youths, even before these declined figure were reported, have been generally lower than the national average. Educators, however, say they are still concerned by the findings.
Almost half of Maryland's 12th-graders reported drinking alcohol during the month before the survey, and almost a third reported binge-drinking having five or more drinks in succession.
Among eighth-graders, more than 10 percent reported smoking pot during the past 30 days and almost 25 percent drank alcohol.
"We have seen significant decreases over our 1998 survey, but we still have a lot of work to do," said Tina G. Henry, Caroline County's director of pupil services.
The number of 12th-graders reporting that they have used Ecstasy in the past 30 days rose from 2.7 percent in 1996 to 4.8 percent consistent with national increases.
Lynn E. Linde, the state education department's chief of student services and alternative programs, called the drug the system's "current challenge."
"We're trying to tell students about the dangers of Ecstasy, because they don't perceive Ecstasy is dangerous," she said.
The Maryland Adolescent Survey was given to more than 34,500 students in 298 schools across the state in April, and had a response rate of 80 percent. The confidential survey asked students about their use of substances such as cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, LSD, crack, Ritalin, Ecstasy and steroids, as well as their knowledge of the drugs and their availability.

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