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Contempo 1998
August 19, 1998

Adolescents and Illicit Drug Use

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pediatrics (Dr Bruner) and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Dr Fishman), The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Mountain Manor Treatment Center (Drs Bruner and Fishman), Baltimore, Md.


Edited by Ronna Henry Siegel, MD, Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 1998;280(7):597-598. doi:10.1001/jama.280.7.597

PLANO, a small Texas community (population, 180000; median family income, $54000) just north of Dallas, has been shocked by the deaths of more than 12 adolescents from heroin overdoses in the past 18 months.1 In Fairfax County, Virginia (population, 900000; median household income, $70000), drug-related arrests of adolescents have increased more than 10-fold in 10 years.2 Across the country parents wonder, "How could it happen to our children?" Lifetime prevalence rates of adolescent drug use have been rising since 19923 (Figure 1), and the percentage of teens saying they would never try illegal drugs is decreasing: 86% in 1995, 51% in 1996, and 46% in 1997.4,5

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