Even for someone used to seeing troublesome statistics these two numbers hit me cold. Six percent of secondary school students (seventh through 12th grades) say that they have attended class drunk. That is one in 17 students.
The second shocker: Of the students old enough to have a driver’s license (grades nine through 12), 7 percent reported driving under the influence.
These are the responses from Granbury students, not some out-of-control big city.
Thanks to voluntary support by the GISD, which administers the Texas A&M’s Texas School Survey of Drug and Alcohol Use, we have access to valuable information that lends some insight into what our children are doing. This data is compiled district and statewide, and the data analysis helps local, state, and national efforts to understand and curb substance abuse.
Two surveys were conducted and assessed, one for the elementary level (grades 4-6) and one for secondary (grades 7-12). The results run 443 pages, but imbedded in there are things that every parent, grandparent and frankly all adults should know.
The drug of choice for elementary students is alcohol, much more so than tobacco that is second and inhalants that are third.
The age of first use of alcohol continues to be lower every year. Even in the fourth grade 12 percent of students have tried alcohol. This number doubles by the sixth grade.
A significant number of them report drinking two or more drinks on one occasion. Where do elementary school students get alcohol? Most report getting it from home.
Two percent have tried marijuana and alarmingly 10 percent have used inhalants (paints and thinners, glue, gasoline), which are incredibly damaging to the central nervous system.
The results from the secondary school survey show responses that reflect the increasing risk taking so common with teenagers. Alcohol continues to be the drug of choice. Of note is the sharp increase in tobacco use with 42 percent of 10th graders trying it and a quarter of the seniors reporting use in the last month – an indicator of greater usage than just trying it once.
Tenth grade is a critical time in our culture (first job, driver’s license, etc.), and the statistics show a leap in risky behaviors. For example 11 percent of 10th graders report attending class stoned on marijuana.
Students that try alcohol are now up to 58 percent, and 25 percent have tried it in the last 30 days.
Where do secondary school students get their alcohol? The most common response is at parties.
The Sheriff’s Office and Granbury PD are working hard to shut down alcohol sales to minors and to intervene at teen parties where drugs and alcohol are present.
Unfortunately some misguided parents have provided the alcohol in spite of the fact that it is a crime, and the legal liability is immense. There will be more on this in a future article.
Illicit drug use is also prevalent. With the exception of marijuana, which is now up to 14 percent, most of the really dangerous drugs are in the 2-5 percent use. These include methamphetamine, crack cocaine, rohypnol (date rape drug), heroine and ecstasy. Although the numbers seem low there is still a concern. The 3 percent reported for cocaine use means that 48 students said that they have tried it.
Licit or prescription drug abuse remains a real concern. Usage ranks from 2 percent for valium to 9 percent for codeine containing cough syrup as well as for Vicodin. In the middle are Xanax, Oxycontin and Coricidin.
Did you know that in the U.S. since 2009 the number of accidental deaths from prescription drug overdose exceeds the number of deaths from traffic accidents?
NOT ALL BAD
It is not all bad news. Most students still do not use drugs and alcohol, a fact that needs to be recognized as the norm. Research also shows that parents can influence their children’s drug use although not all parents take advantage of this. Surprisingly 22 percent of students said that their parents either approved their use of alcohol, neither approved nor disapproved, or they didn’t know their parent’s position. As an aside, our results mirror closely what is seen statewide.
So what can we do?
First, talk to your children about your position on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Making the assumption that drug abuse applies to other families, not yours, is a foolish and dangerous one. Keep your eyes, ears and communication links open. Never, ever permit alcohol consumption by anyone under the age of 21. There are many reasons for this that will also be covered in a future article.
The Hood County Substance Abuse Council (HCSAC) is dedicated to the prevention of substance abuse, is a recipient of a Drug Free Communities federal grant and is affiliated with the United Way of Hood County.
Category: Forum Archived