UT Survey Used To Combat Teen Drug Use In Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee has a head start on the rest of the nation in dealing with the problem of teenage drug use, education officials said Tuesday.

Results from a University of Tennessee study of 76,000 students in 137 high schools are being used to evaluate and plan drug prevention programs.

The survey was done by UT-Knoxville’s Community Health Research Group.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week reported teen drug use more than doubled from 1992 to 1995 — rising from 5.3 percent to 10.9 percent.

Michael Randle, who heads research and planning for the state’s Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, said the UT findings are being used widely across the state.

“It is helping determine problem areas in a region or a school system so officials can focus on specific problems,” Randle said.

Dr. Fleetis Hannah, psychologist for the Memphis school system’s alcohol and drug abuse program, said information from the 1995 UT study is helping officials design specific programs for different parts of the city.

“The UT study has given our schools information about neighborhoods and their kids so they can develop a program that is unique to them,” Hannah said.

Dr. Sandra Putnam, director of the UT research group, said the study found:

* More than one in five Tennessee teens has used marijuana in the month prior to the survey.

* Six percent say they are addicts to marijuana.

* More than two in five students had consumed alcohol in the past month; of those, 25 percent had more than five drinks in a row.

* Five percent had used hallucinogens and 3 percent cocaine in the past month.

* 43 percent had been offered illegal drugs in the past year.

Contact: Dr. Sandra Putnam (423-974-4511)