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Fewer teens say they use drugs but is that true?

Local experts disagree with new drug survey
Fewer teens say they use drugs but is that true?
Posted at 5:42 PM, Dec 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-14 17:42:25-05

A new national survey says marijuana use is up among teenagers, but other illicit drug use is down.

24 percent of students surveyed say they use pot. That's up 1.3% from 2016. 4.2% of students admit to using opioids. That's down .5% percent from 2016. 

The survey, conducted by the University of Michigan, asked close to 44 thousand students from 360 public and private schools nationwide.

Teens like Tyeshawn Fleming think the survey is flawed. The 18-year-old from Cheektowaga said he started using marijuana at 12, and that led to other drugs. “I started experimenting with Xanax just from seeing my friends doing it.”

He's been clean for seven months. But he said it wasn't easy. It's cases like Fleming’s that are all too common among teens experimenting with marijuana. That's why local addiction experts don't agree with the national survey.

“I'm not buying what they're selling,” said Jodie Altman. Altman is the campus director for Kids Escaping Drugs. It funds Renaissance Home, a treatment facility for kids ages 12 to 20 with substance abuse issues. “Drug use is not down, and I think when we start to categorize it, that almost says we're winning this battle which is not true,” Altman said. 

The debate rages on over whether to legalize recreational marijuana in New York. And those who oppose it hope lawmakers take the survey seriously.

“As a policy maker, I'd look at the will of the people and I'd say we shouldn't be legalizing marijuana right now. On top that, I'd look at what's happening to our kids and say absolutely not. This is not right for our state,” said S.A.M. Special Assistant of Policy, Luke Niforatos.

For more information on Kids Escaping Drugs, click here.