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Drug, alcohol, tobacco use reportedly low amongst surveyed NHS students

Published: Thursday, July 17, 2014 3:38 p.m. CDT

By Ty Rushing

Daily News Senior Staff Writer

Representatives from Employee & Family Resources and the American Lung Association collaborated to create a survey on drug, alcohol and tobacco use amongst teenagers. On April 25, 209 students at Newton Senior High School participated.

Monday, EFR representative Amy Blasius and ALA Tobacco Control Program Coordinator Emily Smid presented the results of the survey during a meeting of the Newton Community School District Board of Education.

“We came to the conclusion that we would start a survey that would, hopefully, expand and engage more of the community as well,” Blasius said.

Blasius said this survey was created to help better understand the mentality of high school students as it pertained to substance use. She added that it was conducted completely anonymously and electronically.

According to the results of the survey, students ranged from 14 to 19 years old, 61 percent of participants were female, 82 percent said they were involved with extracurricular activities and more than 80 percent of participants had a 3.0 GPA or above.

Alcohol

One questions that pertained to alcohol use showed that in the last six months, 23.44 percent of participants said they had consumed at least one drink of alcohol.

Under the scope of the survey, if you consumed more than five alcoholic beverages in one day, it would be considered binge drinking. Only 16.27 percent of participants said they had ever done that, which amounted to only 34 of the 209 surveyed. More than half of the students felt that if people consumed more than three alcoholic beverages in a day they would be doing harm to themselves.

Thirty-three percent of participants that they have been to an underage drinking party.

Drugs

In the last six months, 14.49 percent of students surveyed said they had used marijuana which amounted to only 30 of the 209 participants. When asked how much harm do you think using marijuana once a week causes, 42.03 percent felt it was very harmful, 20.77 percent felt it was harmful, 16.43 percent felt it did little harm, 8.7 percent felt it did very little harm and 12.08 percent felt there was no harm.

When asked if students had taken prescription medication that was not prescribed to them in them in the last six months, 92.82 percent of participants said they hadn’t. According to the proctors, the way the question was designed was so that it didn’t just limit the ability to answer ‘yes’ to kids who took a prescription medication for a recreational purpose.

Around the same percentage of kids also answered they hadn’t taken medicines they were prescribed in a way other than stated in the directions.

As it pertained to hard drugs — cocaine, meth, barbiturates, heroin, synthetics and hallucinogens — only 5.26 percent of students said they had ever used them without a doctor’s prescription. This amounted to only 11 of the 209.

Only 43 of the 209, or 20.57 percent, of the students who participated said they ever felt pressured from their peers to use drugs and alcohol.

Tobacco

Seventy-two percent of participants felt that smoking cigarettes everyday was very harmful and the other results seemed to reflect those views. Only 17.7 percent of students surveyed have ever tried an electronic cigarette or vapor pen. In the last six months, only 14.83 percent have tried any sort of tobacco product.

Next Step

“Moving ahead with the survey results in the future — we only have, what, about less than 25 percent of the school that was surveyed. If we include all of that, what would our numbers look like? It could be higher, and who knows, what that gap could be versus the state,” Blasius said.

Board vice president Sheri Benson expressed her pleasure with the organizations’ work in getting this survey done and bringing the results to the board.

“I think its awesome that you were even able to get this much of a response from the survey. That is an indication of the trust that our high school students place in you to be able to share,” Benson said.

Senior staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 6532, or at trushing@newtondailynews.com.

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