|Youth drug use studied|
|Written by JORDAN CRAVENS Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Friday, 11 May 2012 08:59|
Some Wood County high school students are more likely to smoke marijuana than cigarettes, according to a new Wood County Youth Survey to be released today.
"It's a trend nationally," said Dr. William Ivoska, the lead researcher for the survey. "People are less likely to feel it's harmful. And there is also an increase in peer approval" for smoking marijuana.
The survey, which analyzed alcohol, nicotine and drug use among Wood County youth in grades 5-12, found that while cigarette and alcohol use is on the decline here, marijuana use is up, overall.
When 12th graders were asked how often they used cigarettes and marijuana in the last 30 days, 15.2 percent of students indicated they had smoked cigarettes, compared with 19.9 percent who said they smoked marijuana.
Similarly, 31.3 percent of high school seniors said they had smoked marijuana in the last year. Of those, 15.6 percent said they had used marijuana 11 or more times in the past year.
Meanwhile, cigarette use among Wood County youth is declining.
"This was very encouraging to all of the people who have been working hard on prevention efforts," Ivoska said.
He attributed the decline to several factors: prevention efforts, youth becoming more aware of negative health impacts, cigarettes becoming more expensive and changing attitudes about cigarette use.
Alcohol remains the substance of choice for Wood County youth, but its use has also shown a decline.
"I think that is very much attributable to prevention efforts in Wood County," Ivoska said.
Also, he said, "Kids are starting to disapprove of friends drinking."
"Reductions in alcohol use are related to teen attitudes about use," Ivoska wrote in his report. "As peer disapproval rates increase, use of alcohol decreases; if there is an increase in perception that there is a great risk of harm from drinking alcohol, then alcohol use decreases; and as availability is reduced, levels of consumption decline."
Similarly, because alcohol rates are down, a decrease in drinking and driving has been observed.
Conversely, because more youth are using marijuana, the prevalence of smoking marijuana and then driving is increasing.
The study, commissioned by the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board and the Wood County Educational Service Center, also studied the prevalence of bullying experienced by students.
Verbal bullying, according to the studying, is the most common type of bullying faced by students in Wood County.
About 32 percent of students surveyed reported being verbally bullied, as compared with about 10 percent of students who said they have been physically bullied.
"What's bad about bullying is that bullying is linked with substance use," Ivoska said. "Kids who are being bullied are much more likely to use substances."
Victims of bullying are also more likely to report mental health issues and to have thoughts about suicide or attempt to commit suicide, according to the study.
The study, to be released today during a meeting at the Wood County Educational Service Center, was paid for by the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative and has been completed every two years since 2004 by Ivoska.
Ivoska is the retired vice president of Student Services at Owens Community College. He also completed similar studies for Lucas County for many years.
Results of the study are used to track trends in alcohol, tobacco and drug use in Wood County; to measure the effectiveness of prevention and intervention methods; to plan programming and collaborative efforts aimed at addressing the issues; and for grant requests.
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