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Teen Alcohol, Cigarette And Prescription Drug Abuse Trending Downward According To Survey


A biennial survey of teen drug use shows the majority of 7th-12th graders in southwest Ohio aren't using substances. PreventionFIRST! President Mary Haag says the survey finds alcohol, cigarette and prescription drug abuse is trending downward. Marijuana use has increased slightly.From the survey as measure by the past 30-day use indicator:

95.4 percent report not using prescription drugs non-medically. 91.8 percent do not use cigarettes. 88.3 percent report not using marijuana. 83.7 percent do not use alcohol.

The survey finds 13 continues to be a pivotal age when students report first trying drugs or alcohol.

"It's a transition time for kids between schools. It's when they're first starting to socialize in middle school," says Haag. "This is really important because this is really too young to be starting to experiment with drugs and alcohol."

Haag says research shows people who begin using substances before age 15 are five times more likely to develop a substance use disorder.


When asked about their perceptions of how harmful various substances are, students reported the lowest numbers for marijuana. Just 64.6 percent of respondents said marijuana was harmful or very harmful. That number has been on the decline since 2012. Haag says it means the group must continue it's efforts about the risks of marijuana use. She says the group will also continue to lobby against medical marijuana without FDA approval.

Friend And Parental Disapproval

According to the survey, the level of parental disapproval of drug or substance use is high. The numbers continue to climb as well when students are asked about if their friends approve of substance use.

Haag says the organization is happy to see the all-time high disapproval rates because parents and friends are the "number one influencers in a young person's life." She continues, "Students tell us that disappointing their parents is really a driving factor for their choices not to use."

About The Survey

More than 39,000 students from 88 schools in Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Highland, Warren counties in Ohio (and one "small, private elementary" in Kenton County, Ky) participated in the self-reporting survey in fall 2015. They're asked about perceptions and drug use/abuse in the past 30 days.

PreventionFIRST! is a 501(c)(3) targeting drug abuse. It was formerly known as the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.