They're Not Listening


Mitch Earleywine, a University of Southern California psychology professor and author of Understanding Marijuana, points out in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed piece that drug use among minors is increasing despite (maybe partly because of) the federal government's ridiculous anti-drug ads. Both the Parent's Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE) survey and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH, formerly the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse) show drug use rising between 2001 and 2002.

Earleywine questions the government's claim that, because of methodological changes intended to elicit greater cooperation and candor, the 2002 NSDUH results should not be compared to data from prior years' household surveys. The three major changes were the new name, a $30 payment for participation, and retraining of field personnel to make sure they stick to protocol. Earleywine writes, "I have found nothing in these changes to account for the sharp spike in drug use—except that more people, including teens, are using drugs."

Over all, the NSDUH numbers suggest a 17 percent increase in past-month drug use, 7 percent among 12-to-17-year-olds. The PRIDE survey, which did not make significant changes in its methodology, found a bigger increase within the latter age group: about 13 percent between 2001-02 and 2002-03 among students in grades 6 through 12.