BIDEN Calls for Increased Support for Anti-Drug Efforts Following Today's Release of the 2007 Monitoring the Future Study

Press Release

By:  Joe Biden, Jr.
Date: Dec. 11, 2007
Location: Washington, DC

BIDEN Calls for Increased Support for Anti-Drug Efforts Following Today's Release of the 2007 Monitoring the Future Study

The 33rd Annual Monitoring the Future Study, which was made public by the President today, found that while adolescents' use of some illegal drugs continued to decline in 2007, there were no dramatic decreases from last year. The Study also indicated that adolescent abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs continued at alarmingly high rates. Chairman of Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) applauded the good news surrounding the decreased use rates of some illegal drugs among adolescents, but reiterated his previous calls for ongoing and comprehensive anti-drug education and treatment efforts to fight prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse.

"The Monitoring the Future Study is a firm reminder that drug use trends are constantly changing and must be attacked through a comprehensive effort to educate parents and teens, and to robustly fund prevention and treatment programs," said Sen. Biden, also Chair of the Caucus on International Narcotics Control. "It's great news that the use of certain illegal drugs among teens has declined over the years, but as the Study recognized, the usage rates of many illegal and prescription and over-the-counter drugs is still alarming."

Monitoring the Future is annual survey of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American adolescents. Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Monitoring the Future Study surveys approximately 50,000 8th, 10th and 12th grade students each year on substance use levels and perceived risks and availability of various drugs including alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, hallucinogens, and, recently, prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Highlights from this year's Study include:

* Eighth graders' reporting lifetime use of any illegal drug declined from 20.9% to 19% from 2006 to 2007, and reported past year use for the same group declined from 14.8% to 13.2%.
* Heroin use is down by one-third to one-half from peak rates in the 1990s, but there was no change between 2006 and 2007—less than one percent of 8th, 10th, or 12th graders reported heroin use this year.
* Cocaine use has remained relatively steady in recent years, with abuse rates between two and five percent in grades 8, 10, and 12.
* Ecstasy (MDMA) use among 10th graders increased from 2.8% in 2006 to 3.5% in 2007.
* Non-medical use of prescription drugs such as Vicodin and OxyContin showed a steady increase and these drugs have become a significant part of the nation's drug problem. Vicodin abuse rates remain close to peak levels, with an abuse rate of 9.6% in 12th grade.
* Abuse of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines continued at high rates comparable to 2006 levels, the first year the question was introduced into the study. About 6% of 12th graders abused cough and cold medicines in 2007—no statistically significant change from 2006.

"It's not just illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, or ecstasy that we need to worry about these days," said Sen. Biden. "Teens are abusing prescription and over-the-counter medicines to get high because they are under the false impression that just because a drug is ‘legal' that it can't be lethal. They're flat wrong—prescription drugs are dangerous and this Study only reinforces that we've got to do more to curb their abuse."

In October, Sen. Biden introduced the Dextromethorphan Abuse Reduction Act (S. 2274) to curb the alarming rise in medicine abuse, including teens' misuse of cough and cold medicines containing Dextromethorphan (DXM). DXM produces hallucinogenic, PCP-like effects when taken in excessive quantities, and its misuse may cause a rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, seizures, brain damage, elevated body temperatures, and sometimes even death. Sen. Biden's legislation would regulate the sale of DXM and DXM-containing products, and provide robust funding for prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse prevention and education programs.

Senator Biden also supports legislation to shut down rogue, Internet pharmacies that dispense powerful painkillers and other controlled substances without a valid prescription. This legislation would require Internet pharmacies to dispense a controlled substance only after the issuance of a valid prescription, which must include at least one in-person doctor-patient consultation. Both of these bills were included in Senator Biden's recently introduced omnibus Crime Control and Prevention Act of 2007 (S. 2237).

"Drug use is still a real threat to our kids," said Sen. Biden. "We've got to do a better job confronting these problems and investing the resources to solve them. Step one is enacting these bills into law."

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