Fighting Youth Substance Abuse East of the River

10/23/2012, 3:28 p.m.

The youth at the meeting theorized on reasons for using K2 or alcohol - following friends, looking cool but most important, some said K2 can't be detected in drug screenings. Several admitted they have friends who abused one form of drug or another.

According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, nearly one quarter of D.C. public high school students were early alcohol drinkers before age 13, which is associated with other risky behaviors. Even more stark is that between 900 and 1,800 teens, age 12 to 17, abused or were dependent on alcohol, according to a 2007-2008 National Survey of Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"I don't see consequences such as cirrhosis in young people," said Dr. Robyn Miller from the Children's National Medical Center about alcohol's effects. "But I've treated young people who've been drinking for their birthday and they didn't know how they got there or what's going on."

Joining the conversation was Deputy Director of Demand Reduction for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, David Mineta, who said nationally there're about 2.5 million youth on drugs.

"Prevention must be comprehensive," Mineta said. "Communities must continue to have key relationships with law enforcement and others in the health field."

He said communities should work together on reducing demand, as businesses Brown mentioned aren't closing if they continue to make profits.

"National Substance Abuse Prevention Month gives us an opportunity to assist local communities in their drug prevention programs, and it's an honor for us to support this work," Mineta added.