WASHINGTON, DC—According to a study released Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services, drug use is on the decline among uncool kids in the U.S.
While nearly 80 percent of cool kids—whose levels of substance abuse have risen steadily throughout the '90s—use drugs, the study found that just .007 percent of uncool kids between the ages of 12 and 19 use drugs, down from .012 percent in 1990.
"Really, this should surprise no one," Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala said. "If you'd ever met any of these kids, you'd be amazed they ever left their own bedroom, let alone smoked a joint."
DEA guidelines established in 1989 define "uncool" kids as those who "are introverted and passive; possess academic aptitude and physical ungainliness; and live in constant fear of things that really aren't that big a deal."
Among the uncool kids polled for the federal study were high-school yearbook editors, people unable to do chin-ups for the President's Council On Physical Fitness test, Forensics Club secretary-treasurers, and newspaper carriers saving their money to buy a Capsela set.
Uncool youths participating in the study cited many factors in their reluctance to use drugs. Fifty-six percent said that their parents would kill them if they tried drugs, and 62 percent believed their brain cells would erode from drug use, leading to poor SAT scores. An overwhelming 94 percent feared allergic reaction.
"I'm allergic to milk, cats and pollen," said Ted Boyce, 16, of Petaluma, CA, "and I am afraid that if I smoke marijuana, Dr. DeSmet will give me more shots, which I don't want because they hurt, and they cause small red welts on my skin. Also, smoke irritates my eyes really bad."
Health and Human Services researchers tested the limits of uncool kids' aversion to drugs by enlisting 15 popular kids to pressure a sample group of A.P. calculus students to smoke marijuana. Resistance was universal.
"I was trying to get this geek named Jonathan to smoke a joint, and he just started crying," Sandusky High School (OH) star quarterback Chris Mitchell said. "What a girl."
Of the many subgroups of uncool kids, fantasy-game enthusiasts used drugs the most. But even among this group, only .018 percent reported trying them.
"At GenCon '96, there was a rumor that some marijuana was present," 19-year-old Ken Odom of Enid, OK, said. "My older brother said he'd seen a marijuana smoking pipe under this one Car Wars table, but this I never witnessed."
Shalala said that, while the Department of Health and Human Services is dedicated to fighting teen substance abuse, many uncool kids could nevertheless benefit from the occasional use of recreational drugs.
"It wouldn't hurt these kids to loosen up a little," Shalala said. "I mean, yes, stay away from cocaine, LSD and all the heavy stuff, the stuff that fries your mind. But come on, you can certainly get away with some pot every now and then. Beer can also be nice. Or ask your parents to serve a nice table wine, like Beaujolais, with dinner. It adds a tangy zest to chicken and fish, and it'll take you out of your shell a bit. I mean, live a little."