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UN Report: Teens In US More Likely To Use Drugs Than Teens In Europe
European Youth More Likely To Use Alcohol, Tobacco Than US Counterparts
The World Health Organization (WHO) held its European Ministerial Conference on Youth and Alcohol in Stockholm, Sweden in February 2001.
Highlights from the conference included a report comparing use of alcohol and other drugs by youth in Europe with use by youth in the US. The New York Times reported on February 21, 2001 ("Study Finds Teenage Drug Use Higher In US Than In Europe") that "Forty- one percent of 10th graders in the United States had tried marijuana, compared with 17 percent of those in Europe. And 23 percent of the students in the United States had used other illicit drugs, compared with 6 percent of the Europeans." The study was developed by the Council of Europe with the help of researchers at the University of Michigan's Monitoring The Future project, and compared results from the MTF with results from a European survey, the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Drugs (ESPAD).
(A summary report on ESPAD 1999 can be downloaded as a PDF file from http://www.csdp.org/research/ESPADsummary1.pdf. In addition, this WHO Background Brief can be downloaded from the UN World Health Organization's European HQ website. Also, a 4-page set of graphs from the ESPAD Summary volume 2 tables and charts, in which marijuana use by young people in Europe and the US is compared, is available by clicking here.
The WHO also reported that alcohol is the number one killer of young men in Europe, according to new data from their Global Burden of Disease 2000 Study. The release notes that "One in four deaths of European men in the group aged 15-29 years is related to alcohol. In parts of eastern Europe, the figure is as high as one in three."
These reports are issued on the heels of the release of the new annual report by the UN's International Narcotics Board. The report, available online in PDF format, details world consumption and production of both legal and illegal narcotic drugs and issues cautions based on their analysis.
According to the INCB, the US and many other nations face a problem of over-use of prescribed drugs. The BBC reported that according to the INCB, "Benzodiazepines are a major problem. In Europe, the forms of drug used as a sedative are used three times as often as in the US. But in the US, the forms of benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and obesity disorders are used 10 times more often than in Europe. Loose prescription regulations, aggressive marketing and unethical prescribing were highlighted as problems."
The INCB also singled out for criticism drug policies in both Australia and Canada.
The Australian Associated Press reports that "The United Nations has criticised Australian states for challenging the Federal Government's anti-heroin injection room stance." Also, the AAP story says that "the INCB also said it was concerned about the high social acceptance of illicit drugs and the large number of people in favour of the legalisation of drugs in Australia."
Regarding Canada, the Toronto Star reports that "The United Nations' International Narcotics Board has criticized Canada for its lax attitude toward illegal growers of cannabis and failure to control illicit production of drugs such as 'ice' and 'ecstasy'."
A growing divide is developing between the UN's anti-drug bodies and Europe, Australia and Canada. In contrast with the INCB's report, the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a report that "commends the approach taken by Switzerland, which has significantly reduced drug-related deaths since 1994 using controversial prevention and treatment programmes including needle exchanges, injection rooms, heroin for severely addicted users, and housing and employment programmes for addicts.".