More Teens Using Drugs at School, Study Shows

Teens in a just-released national study reported that nearly one in five of their classmates drink, use drugs, and smoke during the school day, and more than a third said it is fairly easy to do so without getting caught.

More middle and high school students than ever know how to buy alcohol, marijuana, or prescription drugs within a day and for the first time, private schools are no longer immune from drugs on campus.

The 17th annual back-to-school survey just released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse focused this year on use at school — and it’s not good.

For the sixth consecutive year, 60 percent or more of teens in the survey reported that drugs are used, kept, or sold at schools and 52 percent said there’s a place on or near school grounds where students go during the day to use drugs, drink or smoke cigarettes.

In the survey by the center at Columbia University, 1,003 teens were surveyed. The results are national.

“Kids are feeling much more emboldened to use at school,” said psychotherapist Elizabeth Jorgensen, who has a private practice treating teens in Ridgefield. “There is not the stigma among teenagers not to use drugs, even for high-achieving students. It used to be that kids understood that doing drugs would jeopardize their future, but that’s no longer the case.”

The CASA report also shows, for the first time, a sharp rise in use at private schools.

In 2002, the survey found that 46 percent of students at public high schools said there was drug use at school compared to 24 percent in private high schools.