ONDCP: Ads Drive Drop in Drug Use

WASHINGTON, D.C. There has been a 6 percent drop in drug use among teens since last year, according to a new government survey, and federal officials are attributing the drop to the White House’s anti-drug media campaign.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s annual “Monitoring the Future” survey documented the decline among teens in grades 8, 10, and 12, which is the demographic the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s campaign targets.

“Common sense shows the media campaign has to have a lot to do with these results,” said ONDCP representative Tom Riley. “We are not seeing these changes yet among adult drug users.”

ONDCP director John Walters called the results “real progress.” He added: “There are now 600,000 fewer teens using drugs than there were in 2001.”

Showing effective results has been a difficult task for the media campaign, and congressional lawmakers have been closely watching for any signs of progress. Congress cut the campaign’s budget to $120 million for next year, in part because the effort has often shown mixed results.

Although the survey does not directly measure the campaign’s effects, it does track teen attitudes about drugs. Over the past two years, the survey shows that there has been an increase in the number of teens who view marijuana as a dangerous drug. Marijuana is also the drug the media campaign has been focusing on.

“Quite possibly, the media campaign aimed at marijuana use that has been undertaken by [ONDCP], in collaboration with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, has been having its intended effect,” said University of Michigan researcher Lloyd Johnston, the survey’s principal investigator. “I am not aware of any other social influence process that could explain these changes in how young people view marijuana.”