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CALABASAS : Survey Shows Rising Drug, Alcohol Use

Alcohol and marijuana use have risen dramatically in the past three years among students in the Las Virgenes Unified School District and remains above the state average, according to a recent student survey.

The survey, by Rodney Skager & Associates, shows for example that the rate of 11th-graders who say they used marijuana weekly has risen from 6.8.% during school year 1990-91 to 27% during school year 1993-94.

Statewide the figure was 14.5% for school year 1993-94.

The number of 11th-graders who said they drank beer in the past six months has risen from 68.5% in 1990-91 to 73.4% in 1993-94.

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The state average is 63.3%.

Cocaine use was also up for 11th-graders, from 5.6% in 1990-91 to 8.4% in the most recent survey. The state average is 4.9%.

In the wake of the random survey of 687 seventh-, ninth- and 11th-graders, district officials vowed to increase their efforts to curb drug use.

“This is certainly not the news that we had hoped to hear, but it is information we have to have,” said Linda M. Cohen, the district’s coordinator of special programs.

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Since the survey was released this week, Cohen has been meeting with other district officials to find ways to reverse the trend. The district has had a number of drug-prevention programs in place for years, but they have been scaled back due to budget cuts, she said.

District officials say more drastic measures may be called for in the war on drugs.

“We all feel there is a need to look at other programs to see if there is something that will work better than what we are doing right now,” said Barbara Bowman-Fagelson, president of the board of education.

Parental involvement is essential in solving the problem, she said. “It’s not something that we can change just by having schools provide programs,” Bowman-Fagelson said. “It’s not something that we can do alone.”

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There was also good news to come out of the study. Somewhat fewer students drink and drive than did three years ago, with the proportion of 11th-graders dropping from 40% to 32%.


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