Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Youth study shows drug usage has fallen, but work still needed

While the 2010 Lucas County Youth Survey, had several favorable findings, it showed that 1,310 students in grades 5 to 12 who took part in the survey, had smoked cigarettes in the last 30 days.

"There's still a lot of work to be done," the survey's executive summary concluded.

Among the favorable findings:

The prevalence of usage in 14 drug classes has fallen, including 30-day cigarette use, 30-day and annual alcohol use; 30-day and annual marijuana use; 30-day and annual stimulant use, and annual use of inhalants, powdered and crack cocaine, methamphetamine, barbiturates, training drugs, painkillers, nonecstasy designer drugs, heroin, cough and cold medicine, and caffeinated and alcohol-infused energy drinks.

Compared to U.S. trends, Lucas County students' substance-use rates are lower than average for students in grades 8, 10, and 12 in several drug classes.

Perceptions of "great harm" associated with alcohol and marijuana use are higher locally than nationally, and the proportion of students who associate "no harm" with alcohol and marijuana use is falling.

Students are waiting longer to start using tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, the survey said.

For students in grades 5 and 6, the number of students who intend to use tobacco, alcohol, and inhalants is declining.

Peer disapproval and the intensity of disapproval are increasing for tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use, and that helps usage to fall.

Perceived parental disapproval is increasing for tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, and this too contributes to a decrease in usage.

Rates of driving while under the influence are down across all grade levels, and fewer students are passengers in vehicles with drivers who are under the influence.

Outside of party settings, a smaller proportion of adults are purchasing alcohol for minors and stores seem to be checking IDs more often. However, a greater proportion of students are stealing and purchasing alcohol with fake IDs.

A greater proportion of students do not know where kids their age get alcohol and marijuana, indicating they do not use these substances and likely aren't closely involved with kids who do.

Binge drinking continues to trend downward.

A smaller number of students are missing school or are out of school because of alcohol or drug use, and the number is down for students who attend school after using drugs or using drugs in school.

Areas of concern include:

•More students are using painkillers, Ecstasy, and hallucinogens.

•Perception of harm is decreasing for tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use, compounded by increased perceptions of "no harm" for such items, which means they are more willing to use.

•More students are having alcohol at parties, and more parents and older friends and relatives are supplying alcohol at these parties.

•In comparison to national trends, Lucas County students' usage rates are higher than average in grades 8, 10, and 12 for several items, including smokeless tobacco, marijuana, stimulants, training drugs, heroin, and cough and cold medicine, with many at twice the national rate.

Other important findings are that more students are identifying themselves as "multicultural." These students hold the highest prevalence rates for use of nicotine, alcohol, stimulants, barbiturates, painkillers, Ecstasy, other designer drugs, hallucinogens, and cough and cold medicines.

Also, a larger proportion of students in grades 5-8 feel safer in school than in their neighborhoods. The trend reverses in 9th grade, with more students feeling unsafe in their schools.

In the last decade, there has been a consistent pattern of decline in the number of active substance abusers at the 12th-grade level. Youth and youth-serving entities in Lucas County have made significant strides in reducing the prevalence of drug and alcohol use; increasing the perception of harm and disapproval of such use, and delaying onset and slowing the evolution of use, according to the survey's executive summary.

Although the numbers are decreasing in some areas for substance abuse, the summary states: "It would be a mistake to see these significant decreases as a sign that our job is done. These percentage numbers represent living, breathing youth in Lucas County who are heading down the wrong path."

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