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College Drug Use Down Sharply Nationwide

Long-term research shows drug use is actually down among young people nationwide. The topic is back in the spotlight after this week's bust at San Diego State University. KPBS Reporter Andrew Phelps has more.

Lloyd Johnston of the University of Michigan tracks the drug habits of young people from eighth grade through college. The data goes back to 1975. Johnston says drugs are plentiful at campuses nationwide.

Johnston: Oh sure, I mean, access is very widespread, particularly for marijuana.

But Johnston says overall drug use is down. In 1980, more than half of college students admitted trying illicit drugs in the past year. Today, just a third of students say they've experimented.

Even as illicit use falls off, Johnston says the abuse of pharmaceuticals remains high.

Johnston: The prescription drugs have become a more important part of the picture, and they have not shown very much decline yet.

Johnston says alcohol and marijuana are the most popular drugs among college students. Only 5 percent admitted trying cocaine.

Andrew Phelps, KPBS News.

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