By Nick Worth
According to the results of the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission’s Arizona Youth Survey 2012, both underage drinking and the use of prescription drugs to get high is decreasing among the state’s teens.
More than 62,800 eighth, 10th and 12th grade students from around the state participated in the survey, including 1,363 from Navajo County.
Key findings from the report include:
* Prescription pain reliever abuse fell from 17.6 percent to 13.8 percent for those reporting lifetime use and from 8.1 percent to 6.2 percent for usage in the past 30 days.
* In the past 30 days, 14 percent of youth in eighth, 10th and 12th grade say they have used marijuana.
* Alcohol is still the number one substance used by the largest percentage of Arizona youth, with slightly more than half of all teens saying they have consumed alcohol in their lifetime. However, that number is down from 61.7 percent in 2006 and 58.2 percent in 2010.
* Ecstasy remains on the radar as six percent of youth report lifetime use.
* Synthetic drugs are also a growing concern with nearly one out of 10 youth reporting that they have tried a synthetic drug like bath salts or spice to get high.
The survey summarized use of 18 different substances, drug types and categories over the lifetime of the surveyed youth and within the past 30 days of the survey respondents.
The results are also broken down by individual counties in Arizona. The results for alcohol consumption give an idea of how the data is summarized.
Among Navajo County eighth graders, the number of youth who have used alcohol at least once in their lifetime dropped to 35 percent in 2012 from 36.5 percent in 2010 and a high of 45.9 percent in 2008. The state number for this age group is 37.3 percent.
The percentage of eighth graders reporting alcohol use within the past 30 days in Navajo County rose .6 percent, going from 17 percent in 2010 to 17.6 percent in 2012. Both figures are down from the 2008 percent-age of 24. The state’s numbers are lower than Navajo County’s with 17.1 percent reporting recent alcohol use.
Among the county’s 10th grade students, the number of students who have used alcohol at least once over their lifetimes goes up percentage-wise, but is still trending downward. In 2008, 61.2 percent of the surveyed students reported using alcohol. By 2010, the number had decreased to 55.9 percent. In 2012, alcohol use in this age group took a 10.3 percent decrease to 45.6 percent. The state number for 10th graders is 59.1 percent.
Of the survey respondents, 23 percent of 10th graders said they used alcohol within the past 30 days, com-pared to 30.4 percent in 2012 and 32.3 percent four years ago. Statewide, the number comes in at 32.1 percent.
In 2008, 72.9 percent of high school seniors in Navajo County reported using alcohol at least once during their lifetimes. By 2010, that number had dropped to 64.2 percent and has since decreased by 9.8 percent to 45.4 percent in 2012. Over the entire state, 69.2 percent of high school seniors reported use.
Throughout Navajo County, 30.5 percent of the students in the Class of 2012 have reported alcohol use within the past 30 days, compared to 39.3 percent in 2008 and 34.9 percent in 2010. The number is higher at the state level, with 43.5 percent of all Arizona high school seniors reporting alcohol use within the past 30 days.
Since the 2012 high school seniors are, for the most part, the same group as the 2008 eighth graders, it is worth noting their comparative increases.
In 2008, 24 percent reported alcohol use within the past 30 days. The numbers for the same group had jumped to 30.4 percent by 2010, but then only increased by .1 percent over the next two years to 30.5 percent in 2012. In some categories, the group decreased its usage over the years represented in the posted survey results.
Similar statistics are given for the use of marijuana, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, hallucinogens, cocaine, inhalants, methamphetamines, heroin, Ecstasy, other club drugs, steroids, over-the-counter drugs (such as cold medicine, cough syrup and diet pills), synthetic drugs and all forms of prescription drugs.
A comparison of the three grade levels of Navajo County youth surveyed shows some interesting compari-sons.
For those students who reported using the listed substances at least once over their lifetime, the high school sophomores percentages showed a decrease in every category for 2012. High school seniors, however, reported an increase in the once in a lifetime use of several substances, including cocaine, methamphetamines, Ecstasy, other club drugs, steroids, over-the-counter drugs and every category of prescription drugs, including pain relievers, stimulants, sedatives and general treatment drugs.
Eighth grade students in Navajo County showed an increase in the use of cigarettes, marijuana, hallucinogens, inhalants, methamphetamines, Ecstasy, over-the-counter drugs and prescription stimulants.
In answer to the question about substance use within the past 30 days, Navajo County 10th graders only showed an increase in reported use in three categories, chewing tobacco, prescription stimulants and over-the-counter drugs. Seniors showed increases in recent use in hallucinogens, Ecstasy, prescription stimulants and over-the-counter drugs.
Navajo County eighth grade students showed an increase in 14 of the 18 categories.
The survey results for the State of Arizona, Navajo County and other Arizona counties can be found on the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission website at http://www.azcjc.gov/ACJC.Web/sac/AYS.aspx.
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By Nick Worth