Teenage girls, having caught up to male counterparts in illegal drug use and alcohol consumption, now surpass boys in smoking and prescription drug abuse, says the Washington Post. In the past two years, more young women than men started using marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes, say to government findings being released today. Researchers say the results are disturbing because they run counter to trends indicating a decline in teenage drug use and because young women appear to suffer more serious health consequences.
Adolescent girls who smoke, drink, or take drugs are at a higher risk of depression, addiction, and stunted growth. Because substance abuse often goes hand in hand with risky sexual behavior, they are more likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease or become pregnant, warns the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The analysis is based on the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which interviewed members of 70,000 households. The results came as something of a surprise to drug czar John Walters because illegal drug use by children ages 12 to 17 has fallen 19 percent in the past 5 years, a statistic President Bush touted in his recent State of the Union address.