Teenage drug abuse skyrockets

This group of teenagers say drug and alcohol abuse is normal in their age group.

LOS ANGELES - At a June 2010 music rave in Los Angeles, thousands of teenagers were drunk and high, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.

15-year-old Sasha Rodriguez drank water laced with ecstasy. She later overdosed and died.

It may seem shocking, but in the last three years ecstasy use among teenagers has jumped 67 percent. One in 10 teens now use it. Marijuana use is up 22 percent, with four in 10 teens smoking pot, according to The Partnership at Drugfree.org.

Teen drug abuse rising: Why?

One group of high school students we spoke with said marijuana is not taboo.

"People look down upon someone who smokes cigarettes more than they look down upon weed," said high school senior Samantha Gerson.

"I'm kind of surprised that people don't think it's such a big deal," said high school junior Madeleine McSweeney.

As for alcohol, 71 percent of teens have a drink before they leave high school. On average they start at just 14 years old. Twenty-five percent of them have had a drink by age 12.

The group says they first saw alcohol when they were in 7th grade.

Experts say after years of declines in teen alcohol and drug use, parents and the government became complacent.

"Over this last decade there has been less of a message getting out if you will," said Steve Pasierb, president of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. "A lot of the programs that used to exist have been cut, through successive rounds of budget cuts."

The teens we talked to say drinking and smoking pot isn't something that just happens on the weekends at parties -- they say it happens all week long.

"There's people who do it after school, during school, on the weekends," said high school senior Rafe Aksad.

"You come and relax after the party by getting high and drinking," said Gerson. "It's never ending."

A non-stop party that can turn deadly.

  • Ben Tracy

    Ben Tracy is a CBS News White House correspondent based in Washington, D.C.