WEDNESDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Ninety percent of American high school students report that some of their classmates are using illicit drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, during the school day, a new survey found.
When asked to estimate how many were involved, these teens reported that about 17 percent of students -- roughly 2.8 million -- are abusing drugs during the school day, according to the survey.
"The findings are alarming but not surprising," said Bruce Goldman, director of substance abuse services at Zucker Hillside Hospital, in Glen Oaks, N.Y. "We know that teens abuse alcohol, cannabis, prescription medications. It makes sense that they do it at school where they congregate with their peers.
Goldman was not involved with the survey, which was released Wednesday by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia), in New York City.
The survey is a timely one, coming out soon after a U.S. government study found that more teenagers start drinking and smoking cigarettes and marijuana in June and July than in any other month.
The new survey also found that schools can be a hub of drug-dealing activity, with 44 percent of high schoolers saying they know a fellow student who sells drugs at their school.
Half of respondents knew of a place near their school where kids could go to drink and get high during the school day, according to the yearly back-to-school survey, which polled 1,003 12-to-17-year olds.
And more than one-third said that students had ample opportunity during the school day to drug, drink and smoke without getting caught.
Drug use in both public and private schools is on the rise, with 54 percent of private high school students reporting that drugs are available in their schools versus 24 percent in 2002 and 61 percent of students at public schools saying their schoo
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