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Young women surpass men in recreational drug use, study says

Some Mills students argue that young women haven't started using illegal drugs more than men today – it's just a problem that has previously gone unrecognized.

A recent survey in the San Francisco Chronicle said that when compared to men, more young women between the ages of 12 and 17 have developed problems with substance abuse in the last two years.

The Chronicle used statistics from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, which showed that while teenage girls have already caught up to boys in illegal drug use and alcohol consumption, they are surpassing them in smoking and prescription drug abuse.

The site provides annual data on drug use in the United States and is sponsored by the Mental Health Services Administration, an agency of U.S. Public Health Service that provides yearly national and state level estimates of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drug and non-medical prescription drug use.

Several Mills students including sophomore Jen Abrios argued against these statistics.

"It's about equal for men and women. The peer pressure is the same for both of them," said Abrios.

"It's impossible to tell who is using it in general. It's always kind of there. Nowadays there is more public knowledge," said junior Rachel Howard. "When I was in high school I knew a girl who was 13 and got pregnant because she was an alcoholic."

"It's about equal," agreed senior Heather McClure, "but women are getting blamed more because they look more vulnerable. A woman with children in her car doing drugs is a bigger shock than a man who leaves his kids at home while he does it."

While illicit drug use among people between the ages of 12 and 17 has decreased from 11.6 percent in 2002 to 10.6 percent in 2004, more girls than ever have started using marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes.

Sophomore Anu Bhatt argued that women who use drugs are less focused upon in the media, saying, "Men using drugs are more recognized in movies, TV and magazines."

The statistics between genders are similar for college students. Among males, the rate of past year illicit drug use was lower for full-time students at 40 percent than it was for non-students at 43 percent. In comparison, the rate was higher among female full-time students at 35 percent than it was for non-students at 33 percent.

McClure, Arbios and Bhatt agreed that college students are more likely than high school students to do drugs for recreational purposes.

"They smoke weed because it's a chiller and not as addictive," said McClure.

The survey says that marijuana is the most commonly used drug among people age 12 and older.

Though Arbios said that students mostly use illicit drugs for recreational purposes, she also said, "A lot of people do Adderall. It keeps you up to study."

Adderall is a stimulant prescribed to reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.