Idaho students surveyed on substance use
Parents, how much do you know about whether your teen’s peers drink, smoke, or use drugs? Or how prevalent bullying, suicide, or other behavioral and mental health issues are at their school?
Idaho’s Office of Drug Policy (ODP) set out to find answers to these questions to help identify substance abuse and other concerns that inhibit student achievement inside and outside of school.
“Idaho students face a number of behavioral health issues that can interfere with academic performance, positive relationships, and well-being,” said ODP Administrator Nicole Fitzgerald. “The Idaho Healthy Youth Survey is a positive step in identifying areas of concern and helping youth achieve positive outcomes in and out of the classroom.”
ODP surveyed 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders at 149 schools in late 2017. More than 20,000 valid student surveys were returned.
Here are a few highlights from the survey results. These may help launch a discussion with your t(w)een about what they experience at their school—and why it’s not healthy to use drugs or drink underage.
- Who drinks regularly? Students were asked if they’ve had a drink within the last 30 days, an indication they may be consistent drinkers. 1 in 5 tenth graders and almost 1 in 3 twelfth graders reporting drinking during this time period. This means that if you line up your high school senior with three of their friends, one of them drinks, statistically speaking. How do students perceive their peers’ drinking habits? Of twelfth grade students, 30% reported that all or most of their friends drink. This corresponds to what students are self-reporting, above.
- Who’s tried alcohol at least once? 1/3 of 8th graders, almost 50% of 10th graders, and 60% of seniors have had a drink. Even 6th graders—15%—report drinking alcohol at least once, which is why it’s so important to start talking to your child early about the risks of alcohol and letting them know you don’t approve of underage drinking.
- When parents facilitate their child’s alcohol use, students are more likely to drink. A fairly obvious correlation: Students who report that their parents have hosted parties for them with alcohol are almost 3 times more likely to report drinking in the past 30 days. What’s not so obvious to these parents is that individuals who start drinking before age 15 are 40% more likely to become alcohol-dependent.
- A teen’s perceptions of parental and peer attitudes regarding drugs is associated with current use. Students who believe that their parents feel that it would be “not wrong at all” for them to misuse prescription drugs are 11 times more likely to report misusing prescription drugs in the past 30 days than students who report their parent feels it is “very wrong.” Similar trends are seen with the perception of friends’ attitudes and other types of drug use. What you say matters!
- Monitor the prescription drugs and alcohol in your home. Although most students do not misuse prescription drugs, among those that do, most receive their misused medications from their own prescription. It’s important for prescribers to understand the risks, and for parents to monitor their child’s use of legitimate prescriptions.
- Students are driving high. Almost twice as many students report driving after using marijuana (12%) than after using alcohol (6%). Although preventing alcohol-impaired driving is important, it is also important to educate your child about the risks of marijuana-impaired driving. Your child probably knows that some states are legalizing marijuana, but they may not know that these states prosecute drivers when their driving is impaired by marijuana.
- Marijuana usage by type. Although most students report they don’t use marijuana, of those who did, they did so primarily by smoking it (90.1%), followed by eating it (31.1%), dabbing it (29.5%), and vaping it (19.6%). (What’s dabbing? Read about it in this Newsweek article).
- In the past 12 months, 23.1% of students reported they had been bullied. Percentages broken down by grade level are as follows sixth, 24.2%; eighth: 26.4%; tenth, 22.7%; and twelfth, 18.8%.
As a survey follow-up, ODP sent participating schools a kit to aid in developing simple substance abuse prevention activities and an invitation to apply for funding to implement them. The kit included an instructional guidebook, a brochure for parents, and posters and mirror clings promoting staying sober. Eight schools applied for funding to implement substance abuse prevention programs.
Tags: Idaho teen, substance abuse prevention, underage drinking Idaho