HELENA ( A P )
American Indian high school students on Montana reservations report using the drug methamphetamine at more than double the rate reported by all high school students in the state, but the use has fallen dramatically, a survey finds. The 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicates that nearly 11 percent of Indian high school students on reservations report using meth at least once. In 1999, the figure topped 25 percent. In questioning all Montana high school students, the 2007 survey found that 4.6 percent reported using meth. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is distributed every two years. Statewide results were announced in September, but information about meth use only by Indian students became available just recently. Superintendent of Public Instruction Linda McCulloch, whose office conducts the survey and tallies results, said she is pleased a significant decline was reported. "I think it says a lot about our students paying attention to information they get in school, information they get with the Montana Meth Project campaign and on our reservations," McCulloch said. Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant that can be made from certain cold medications and other common chemicals. New laws limit access to the medications in stores. In 2005, software entrepreneur Tom Siebel, who owns a ranch in Montana, started the Montana Meth Project, featuring gritty advertisements about the negative effects of meth. "Montana's reservation communities have a higher poverty rate, extreme unemployment," said state Sen. Carol Juneau of Browning, on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. "If you look at any group in those concentrated areas of poverty, you are going to have more social problems," said Juneau, who has worked in the Browning schools. Re p . Norma Bixby, D-Lame Deer, said another influence is school dropout rates that are higher on reservations than elsewhere in Montana. Dropouts who become addicted to meth may share it with young people still in school, said Bixby, an education administrator for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.