HEALTH

Teens drink, use drugs at younger ages

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A study on teenage drinking and drug use found more teens are using alcohol and drugs at ever younger ages.

After a decade of steady declines, a new report finds drug and alcohol use is headed back up again. Most surprising: The attitude of teenagers toward heavy drinking or binge drinking. Many see it as not a big deal.

According to this new national report, 62 percent of the 2,544 teens surveyed said they'd had their first drink by age 15. One out of four were 12 or under.

"I do think every year people are drinking younger and younger," said Kanika Metre, a student.

Underage drinking has become more normalized among adolescents. Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they don't see a great risk in heavy drinking, defined as five or more drinks a day.

College student Langston McKee disagreed. "Five drinks and you're intoxicated. You can't do anything productive," she said.

"If it's everyday, it's a heavy drinker," said William Teague, another student.

When it comes to drug use, one in four surveyed had taken prescription drugs for recreational purposes. Use of the dance club drug Ecstasy increased 67 percent over the past three years.The use of marijuana increased by 22 percent.

"Ecstasy loosens you up in that scene," said Jeremy Jacobson, a student. He said it goes "hand in hand" with the the music and dancing at a club.

"We're seeing more and more using (drugs) for coping with stress,"  said Sean Clarkin of the partnership at Drugfree.org. He warned that this form of stress relief can cause problems later on.

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