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News Breifs, part 2

Illicit Drug Use Among Teen-Agers On the Increase, Study Says

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

Illicit drug use among American teenagers has increased in the last two years, reversing a trend of generally decreased use that began in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, according to a long-term study by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.

More teenagers are using marijuana, LSD, inhalants and stimulants, the survey of 51,000 students found. The report, conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, also revealed a rise in cigarette use, but found that cocaine use, both in powder and crack form, held steady at low levels and alcohol use generally declined.

"These are disturbing findings," said Lloyd Johnston, a researcher on the survey, but he noted that the numbers still remain below the levels of the 1970s. "It's an early warning to all sectors of society that the improvements of the last decade can't be taken for granted. Each generation of American youth is naive about drugs and has to learn the same hard lessons."

Many specialists say that surveys about drugs, particularly those involving young people, may be skewed because of the reluctance of some participants to tell the truth about illegal activity and the desire among others to brag. However, the University of Michigan study is seen as the most reliable of its kind because of its consistency and longevity. The Michigan researchers have been polling seniors about drug use for 19 years, 10th and eight graders for three years. Students were questioned in 400 schools across the nation.

Although the numbers are reason for concern, perhaps more disturbing is the change in attitude toward drugs, researchers said. Fewer students disapprove of drug use and fewer see it as posing a risk.

"These changes would worry me less if the underlying attitudes and beliefs were not also continuing to shift in the direction" of being favorable to drug use, Johnston said.

"The country as a whole has not been paying attention to this issue," said Johnston.

Former Boston Mayor Looking Seriously at Run for Governor

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

Ray Flynn, the former mayor of Boston and U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, says he's looking seriously at challenging Massachusetts Gov. William Weld (R) this year but won't formally announce a decision until St. Patrick's Day.

Flynn, who quit in the middle of his third term as mayor to accept President Clinton's offer to be the Vatican envoy -- a job he has tried to expand well beyond the borders of the Vatican, even beyond the borders of Italy -- was back in Boston late last week taking some soundings and told reporters there there is "more than a 50-50 chance I will run."

Just for the record, Weld doesn't seem intimidated. In an interview during the NGA meeting, Weld brushed aside the speculation about Flynn by saying, "I don't think he's going to get in." Still, Weld said, he doesn't anticipate an easy re-election, saying he figures whoever gets the Democratic nomination will get close to 49 percent of the vote.