An Indiana survey conducted in 2013 indicated findings that are relevant to issues our youth face and our community can help eliminate. Significant findings include:
· Although monthly marijuana use is on a downward trend, over 7 percent of Indiana’s 8th graders still used it in the past 30 days. Almost 18 percent of 12th graders reported past month use of marijuana.
· Indiana has the second highest prevalence rate of high school students who report they ever took prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription (21.4 percent), as compared to the nationwide rate of 20.7 percent. Among those who reported use of prescription drugs to get high, the most frequently identified sources were “bought from a friend” and “someone gave it to me.”
· Indiana’s rate of methamphetamine use by 12th graders is above the national rate.
· The prevalence of monthly heroin use among Indiana’s 12th grade youth is more than twice as high as the 2013 national prevalence rate.
· Research has shown that the majority of individuals’ illegal drug use occurs after they use cigarettes, alcohol, or marijuana. These three substances are known as “gateway drugs.”
The survey data shows an average age of first use of gateway drugs has ranged consistently from 12 to 14 years. Reported initiation of gateway drugs exhibits a nearly consistent pattern: cigarettes first, then alcohol, followed by marijuana. A recent study found that, compared to persons who began drinking at age 21 or older, those who began drinking before age 14 were more likely to have alcohol dependence later in life.
For most drugs and across all grades surveyed, the majority of users were male. However, cigarettes, over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs (such as Ritalin, Oxycontin, or Xanax), and alcohol were used primarily by females in grades 8, 9, and 10 in one or more of the time periods surveyed.
The survey indicated that family members were the primary source of alcohol for youth in grades 6 to 9. The higher the grade level, the more likely the student was to report that someone bought it for him or her, or they received it from a person aged 21 or older. Students in higher grades reported obtaining alcohol from retail outlets.
There are several factors that influence alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use. If youth perceive that their peers or parents will disapprove, they are far less likely to use these substances. Also, if youth feel the drugs are easy to access, they are more likely to use them.
Parents should prevent youth from accessing alcohol in the home. Adults may need to be informed of the laws and penalties that apply to purchasing and/or otherwise supplying alcohol to minors. Finally, frequent discussions between parents and their children are key. Remember, parents are the greatest influence on their kids’ attitudes and behaviors.
Together, we can reduce the use of gateway drugs, thereby reducing the risk of other drug use.
For more information, visit us on Facebook at Council for a Drug Free LaGrange County – CDFLC.