New Data Shows National Decline in Teen Substance, Alcohol Use

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Each year the National Institute on Drug Abuse studies teen tobacco, alcohol, and drug use.

The most recent data released at the end of 2016 shows a shift in behavior and usage among young people — but for the better.

This nationwide data shows a decline in 8th, 10th, and 12th grade experimentation.

In the study conducted since 1975, 2016’s report was the lowest year for reported illicit drug use other than marijuana for teens surveyed.

Nationally last year 55.6 percent of high school seniors said they used alcohol — down from 75 percent almost 20 years ago.

In one Southern Tier county — numbers also show a downward trend in usage — but are still higher than the national averages.

“Trends are we’ve seen it go down from 2013 to 2015 and we hope in 2017 that substance use in Schuyler County continues to go down among our youth,” said Casey Allen, a Project Coordinator for the Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs.

The most recent Schuyler County data comes from 2015 — that’s when 25.5 percent reported alcohol use, 11.2 percent reported marijuana use, and 4.1 percent reported prescription drug use.

But tobacco is a persistent problem as well.

“Tobacco products are quite big,” said Allen.

“Smokeless tobacco we have two times the national rate which seems crazy but the numbers don’t lie.”

While the data shows a decline both nationally and in Schuyler County, SCCUDD says there is more work to be done.

Including doing a survey to get fresh data.

“At the end of February all three school districts in Schuyler County taking the evalumetrics youth survey and we hope to get some new data that we can put out there to the community and show them that SCCUDD really does work,” said Allen.

About 1000 students will participate — answering more than 100 questions.

The comprehensive survey takes about 45 minutes to complete.

This year they’re adding questions about e-cigarette use and focusing on how young people access tobacco, drugs, and alcohol.

“We want to know if you are using cigarettes, where did you get them?” said Allen.

For young people experimenting, community resources are available to curb usage before addiction sets in.

Trinity of Chemung County has resources in both the Northern and Southern Tier to help.

“This is a disease of young people,” said Kyle Saxton, Trinity Program Director.

“A lot of addiction is actually going to start in your teen years. One of the statistics that’s out there is if you start using before the age of 21 — you’re 4 times more likely to become addicted in the future. So the adolescents that we’re serving — its very important to try and take care of it right then and there or it could become a bigger issue in the future.”

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