Survey gives glimpse into youth drug use

By Wayne Allen

January 12, 2014

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

A recent drug use survey was conducted among 614 grade 7-12 students from eight Scioto County school districts. The survey was conducted through the Drug Free Communities program administered through the Portsmouth City Health Department.

“The survey was done this fall and it’s called a PRIDE Survey. Similar surveys are done across the country and the White House measures substance use through these surveys,” said Lisa Roberts, community health nurse with the Portsmouth City Health Department. “We will now be able to compare ourselves to other areas of the country (through the survey results).”

Roberts said the results of the survey will help them strategize over the next couple of years, to see where efforts need to be focused. She said this is the first survey that’s been done of its kind in Scioto County.

“We will again be doing this survey again in two years to measure progress,” Roberts said.

The survey measured cigarette smoking, alcohol use, marijuana use and the non-medical use of prescription drugs.

“The survey shows a spike in the use of cigarettes in 10th grade and reaches its highest in 12th grade. With alcohol there is a spike of use in 10th grade and reaches its highest point in 12th grade,” Roberts said. “With cigarettes about a quarter of our 10th graders have smoked cigarettes in the last 30 days and about a third of our seniors have smoked cigarettes in the last 30 days.”

She said alcohol use is about 32 percent, or one-third, of the 10th graders have consumed alcohol in the last 30 days, and 44 percent of seniors have consumed alcohol in the last 30 days.

“If you look at marijuana 25 percent of our 10th graders have smoked marijuana in the last 30 days. The percentage dropped a bit when it come to marijuana use among seniors to 22 percent,” Roberts said. “The good news is that with prescription drugs only six percent of 10th graders had used prescription drugs non-medically in the last 30 days, with seniors that number rose to seven percent.”

When asked what these numbers mean, Roberts explained, “we expected that we had a high youth smoking rate because Scioto County has the highest adult smoking rate in the United States of America. We expected this and know that’s an area we need to work on, youth smoking and alcohol use.”

She said the survey also asked where these activities occur the most.

“Where they are using is predominately at home, a friends house and less often in a car or at school,” Roberts said. “When you look at when they use these substances weekends were predominate followed by after school and not so often at school.”

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or tallen@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.