Clermont County teen drug survey raises concerns

BATAVIA, OH (FOX19) - According to the results of the Clermont County 2012 Student Drug Use Survey, over 82 percent of county youth in grades seven through twelve have not used alcohol in the past 30 days.

That is good news, as the number represents a 4 percent improvement over the past six years.

"People see their friends being hurt in car accidents, they can be suspended from doing sports in school," said Dr. Lee Ann Watson with the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board. "It's awesome, yes. Unfortunately, there was some bad news in the report as well."

15.4 percent of all the students surveyed have used a prescription drug not prescribed to them within the past year, some users as young as eleven-years-old.

"Prescription drugs are being used at a younger age than any of the other substances, sometimes by children as young as eleven-years-old in Clermont County," said Heidi Nykolayko, with the Coalition for a Drug-Free Clermont County.

This survey is a project of the Coalition for a Drug-Free Clermont County and Greater Cincinnati that provides in-depth analysis of the self-reported drug use patterns of area youth.

Every two years, the Coalition implements the unprecedented Student Drug Use Survey to collect youth drug use data from seventh to twelfth graders throughout Clermont County, as well as nine other area counties. The survey is recognized across the region and nationally as a current and reliable source of validated information on local youth substance abuse and is the largest of its kind in the country.

A total of 9,146 students from schools across Clermont County completed the localized version of the PRIDE Survey between Sept. 26, 2011 and Dec. 21, 2011. The data is representative demographically of the region by grade/age, gender, and ethnicity.

Other results from the survey found marijuana use over the past 30 days has been steadily increasing, although slightly. Since 2006, the average age at which youth first use tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana has increased, and the perceived risk of harm from using marijuana is decreasing.

"It looks like the people aren't seeing the harm in doing marijuana any more. So that's a little frightening and something we need to address," said Watson.

Youth who use prescription drugs that are not prescribed for them get the drugs most often from friends, parents, and siblings, and 5.4% of the youth surveyed reported using an illicit drug every day over the past year.

The Coalition for a Drug-Free Clermont County promotes drug free environments for youth by providing education to the community about the risks of alcohol and drug use. Through the efforts of volunteers, the Coalition sponsors Parents Who Host, Lose the Most: Don't be a Party to Teenage Drinking, Red Ribbon week, After Prom events, and the DEA Prescription Drug Take Back program. These activities encourage making choices that avoid substance use and abuse. Volunteers are needed to assist with strategic planning and program implementation.

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