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Public Affairs Update

  • Drug use isn’t what it used to be . . . . . First, the good news: While levels of illicit drug use remained the same between 2004 and 2005, analyses made possible by the nationwide Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey revealed an almost 19 percent decline in past-month-use of any illicit drug by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders between 2001 and 2005. This is particularly due to a decrease in marijuana use among students. The bad news is that there is a continuing high rate of usage of non-medical prescription medications, especially opiate agonist-based painkillers (e.g., Vicodin and OxyContin). Also of concern is the significant increase in the use of sedatives/barbiturates among 12th graders since 2001. Since 1975, the MTF survey has measured drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and associated attitudes among adolescent students. MTF is one of three major HHS-sponsored surveys that provide data on substance use among youth. It is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and conducted by the University of Michigan. For more information, see

  • More good news in the reduction of risk behavior . . . . Strong campus-community initiatives decrease binge drinking and related auto accidents among students, according to a report by the Harvard School of Public Health. Significant reductions in driving after drinking and riding with an intoxicated driver have occurred on campuses with such initiatives. The study evaluates the effect on drinking and driving outcomes of the program “A Matter of Degree: The National Effort to Reduce High-Risk Drinking Among Students” (AMOD), a campus-community coalition initiative to reduce binge drinking by college students. The program fosters community collaboration to change environments around campuses with heavy alcohol consumption. Henry Wechsler, sociologist and Director of the College Alcohol Study and Principal Investigator of the evaluation, said, “The AMOD approach differs significantly from the traditional intervention efforts on campuses that focus on the individual student through educational or motivational programs. Thus far these efforts have not been found to have any impact.” The report can be found in the December issue of the journal Traffic Injury Prevention

  • A rose by any other name is still the APS . . . . Continuing its 17-year-old struggle to distinguish itself from the American Psychological Association and to better reflect its mission, the still-”adolescent” American Psychological Society (APS) will henceforth be known as the “Association for Psychological Science” (retaining its “APS” acronym). While the acronym, mission, and website address remain intact, the organization’s name was changed officially as of January 1, 2006. Of the APS members who voted on the matter, 86 percent supported the change. Carol Tavris, a Charter Member and the first to officially suggest a change, said the reason was “… to identify [APS’s] fundamental mission—educating the public as to why ‘psychological science’ is not an oxymoron.” The hope behind the name change is for a much-needed clearer public persona for the organization.