SACRAMENTO — A survey of California students released Friday found that more than 10 percent of high school students have tried the drug Ecstasy, prompting the state to create a media campaign to target use of the drug.
The biennial survey by state Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s office found that Ecstasy was the third most popular drug among the 7th, 9th and 11th graders questioned.
Alcohol and marijuana topped the survey, Lockyer said. This was the first year students were asked about their use of Ecstasy.
Though alcohol remained the most popular illegal substance, its use dropped more than other drugs, especially in the 7th and 11th grade, the survey found.
The previous survey, from 1999-2000, found that 35 percent of 7th graders had used alcohol in the previous six months, 52 percent of 9th graders and 66 percent of 11th grade students had used alcohol.
This year, 30 percent of 7th graders, 50 percent of 9th graders and 63 percent of 11th graders reported drinking in the past six months.
“The good news is that 7th graders are not drinking and smoking as much as they have in the past,” Lockyer said. “But we are concerned that heavy drinking and drug use among older high school students remain unacceptably high.”
The survey found 4 percent of 7th graders said they had smoked cigarettes in the last 30 days, down from 7 percent the year before.
Marijuana use remained at similar levels to the previous study, with 7 percent of 7th grade students saying they had smoked it in the last six months, a drop of 2 percent. Use among 9th graders and 11th graders remained at 19 percent and 34 percent, respectively.
Though Ecstasy, an illegal hallucinogenic drug popular at all-night parties, ranked third for drug use, it was at a much lower rate. Six percent of 9th graders and 11 percent of 11th graders reporting that they had tried the drug. Two percent of 7th graders, 5 percent of 9th graders, and 9 percent of 11th graders reported using Ecstasy in the past six months.
The survey’s results prompted the state Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs to focus a statewide media campaign on Ecstasy and other “club drugs,” said Kathryn P. Jett, the department’s director.
The attorney general’s study is conducted every two years, and is co-sponsored by the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs and the Department of Education. The 2001-2002 study questioned 8,238 randomly selected students in 113 middle and high schools.