Drug abuse - American EducationThe voluntary use by mouth, injection or inhalation of any substance not prescribed by a licensed physician that may affect an individual’s normal physical, intellectual, psychological, social or emotional functions. Drug abuse spans the range of addictive and nonaddictive chemical substances, both legal and illegal, and may include tobacco, inhalants, alcoholic beverages, diet and cold pills, and illegal narcotics, stimulants, steroids and hallucinogens. Tobacco use is cited as the fifth most frequent disciplinary problem faced by elementary and secondary public school teachers, followed by alcohol abuse, vandalism to school property and abuse of drugs other than tobacco and alcohol.
All forms of high-risk behavior by elementary and high school students showed a steep decline during the last few years of the 20th century— a reflection, in part perhaps, of the economic boom of that period, but also the likely result of stepped-up intervention programs and compensatory health and behavior education in schools. In 1994, Congress passed the SAFE SCHOOLS ACT, which forced public schools to expel students found carrying drugs or weapons. Subsequently, drug use among 12- to 17-yearolds fell from a peak of 13.2% in 1985 to about 9% in 1996, while alcohol consumption, which had climbed 30% during the previous 30 years, plunged from 41.2% to 18.8%. Marijuana use dropped from 10.2% to 7.1% and cocaine use fell from 1.5% to 0.6%. Cigarette consumption dropped from 29.4% to 18.3%.