WASHINGTON -- Nearly a quarter of teens say it would be "very easy" or "somewhat easy" to gain access to methamphetamine, a survey released Tuesday shows.
One in three teens believes there is only a "slight risk" or "no risk" in trying meth once or twice, according to the study by The Meth Project, a non- profit, anti-drug group that produces gritty ads to show the perils of meth abuse.
About one in four teens said there are benefits to using meth. Twenty-four percent of teens agreed with the statement that meth "makes you feel euphoric or very happy," and 22 percent said meth "helps you lose weight" and 22 percent said it "helps you deal with boredom."
Lawmakers and government officials said the survey highlights the need for an aggressive campaign to inform kids about the dangers of the highly addictive stimulant.
"For kids, meth is death," said Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "And if we really want to do something about improving the survival of our adolescents and help them become healthy adults, we've got to tackle this problem head-on."
Gerberding praised The Meth Project's two-year anti-meth ad campaign in Montana, which is credited for helping reduce meth use in the state by 45 percent since 2005.
By contrast, meth use among teens nationally remained unchanged over the same period, according to the annual drug use survey released last month by the Health and Human Serv-ices Department.
Getting to kids at an early stage is crucial, Gerberding said. Of the teens who have tried meth, 77 percent reported that they used the drug when they were 15 or younger, the survey shows.
However, a majority of teens, 76 percent, voiced "strong" disapproval with trying meth once or twice, about the same level as those who disapproved of trying cocaine or heroin.
"What this survey shows us is that we have more work to do," White House drug czar John Walters said.
Prevention ads coming
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy began a meth prevention ad campaign this month. The print and broadcast ads will appear in eight states where meth use remains high: Alaska, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Oregon and Washington.
The survey for The Meth Project was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media and questioned 2,602 junior and senior high school students.
On the Net: www.methproject.com.