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Friends Introduce Drugs, Students Report

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Students reported that friends most frequently introduced them to drugs, other than tobacco and alcohol, according to a limited study of 513 Ann Arbor Pioneer High School students concerning drug use. The survey, which was taken first in March, 1970, and then compared to an additional one completed last April, was presented last night to the Ann Arbor Board of Education. It consisted of questions regarding the student' s personal use of drugs, his knowledge of drugs and willingness to discuss problems with adults. "No attempt has been made yet to interpret the survey results," said Dr. Patricia Carrigan, director of research for the schools who represented the report. The survey was made by a University of Michigan medical student, Robert A. Winfield, in conjunction with the school system. He was also assisted by Dr. Cari Hug, professor at the University Medical School. Some of the results of the study showed that drug use appeared to increase somewhat with grade level, either because of age or the opportunity for contact with drug sources. In the March, 1970, survey 76 per cent of the 513 students indicated they had used alcohol at least once, 45 per cent said they had used tobacco at least once and 25 per cent said they had used marijuana at least once. Corresponding percentages for other representative drugs were: hashish, 20 per cent; mescaline, 10 per cent; LSD, 8 per cent; amphetamines (oral), 8 per cent; sleeping pills, 8 per cent; cocaine, 4 per cent; and heroin, 2 per cent. For the 371 students who responded to both questionnaires, reported usage rates for 1970 and 1971 were similar for most drugs, although the 1971 survey reported 33 per cent of the students used marijuana at least once. In the sequence of drug use, alcohol and tobacco were reported most often the and second-used drugs, marijuana third and hallucinogens fourth. When students were asked how easy it was for them to obtain drugs, over 75 per cent said that it would be easy to obtain alcohol, while slightly over 50 per cent reported that it would be easy to obtain marijuana. The response suggested that, in general, drugs were more available in 1971 than in 1970. Students were asked which adults they have, would, or would not talk with about general problems on an individual basis. Students indicated the greatest willingness to talk with older friends or parents, while counselors, policemen and teachers ranked high on the list of people with whom the students would not talk about problems. Following the report, Mrs. Shirley Gulley asked from the audience for a breakdown in the racial and economic background of the students involved in the survey. She was told that the questionnaire was given as an option in all sophomore and junior English and reading classes, with 38 not taking the survey and 65 students absent from class that day. Mrs. Gulley then said that she had raised this particular question because she felt that the survey did not give a realistic view of the drug problem. In her opinion the survey minimized the actual situation. It was also suggested by Mrs. Nancy Brussolo that the board adopt a drug education program that would work on a continuous basis instead of the "one-shot" drug assemblies that have been presented. Board Trustee Robert Conn then said that his major concern is to find out why students turn to drugs in the first place. "This school district must work to develop a program that fills this void in their lives so that they will not turn to drugs," said Trustee Conn. Trustees Ron Bishop and Conn were then appointed to review the report that was presented and to make recommendations to the board in regard to drug education.