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Report: Drug use among Florida students declines

By Staff | Nov 10, 2010

Nearly all drug use among Florida’s middle and high school students has dropped over the past two years, according to a recently released survey.
The Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey, a collaborative effort between multiple state agencies, found that alcohol and drug use declined from 2008 to 2010 in all areas surveyed, except for marijuana or hashish and heroin.
The survey has been administered annually since 2000.
Deborah Comella, executive director of the Lee County Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida, called the 2010 survey’s overall results positive.
“It really shows the success of our unified prevention efforts,” she said. “We’re going to continue to work to keep those numbers down.”
Students are asked about their past 30-day use and lifetime use during the survey.
According to the survey, lifetime alcohol use dropped from 53.2 percent in 2008 to 51.5 percent in 2010. Alcohol use in the last 30 days dipped from 29.8 percent to 28.8 percent. Lifetime cigarette use decreased from 27 percent to 25.9 percent, with 9.1 percent to 8.8 percent for the 30 days.
Lifetime marijuana or hashish use rose from 21.1 percent in 2008 to 23.8 percent. Use in the last month increased from 11.1 percent to 13.0 percent. Lifetime heroin use also increased from .9 percent to 1 percent, while use in the last 30 days rose from .3 percent to .4 percent.
Comella said the rise in marijuana use among youth is a concern.
“Marijuana is scary, scary stuff,” she said. “They’ve bred it to be much more potent.”
Comella attributed the increased use to an image created by hard-working pro-marijuana lobbyists that the drug is not dangerous.
“We will continue our efforts in Lee County to educate parents and kids on how insidious it can be,” she said.
The Lee County Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida works with other organizations and focuses on educational and preventive programs that have proven results. The annual Drug House Odyssey, participation in Red Ribbon Week and events held in the community are some efforts, Comella explained.
Southwest Florida Addiction Services has implemented in schools “Be The Wall,” a program that focuses on parent education, while Lee Mental Health has organized “Too Good For Drugs,” a self-image program, for grades K-5.
Comella said school resource officers also play a part in drug prevention.
“Everybody is working so hard to drug-proof our kids,” she said.
The 2010 survey reported that lifetime inhalant use dropped from 11.4 percent to 10 percent, while use in the past 30 days decreased from 3.5 percent to 3.2 percent. The lifetime use of methamphetamines decreased from 1.4 percent to 1.3 percent, but use within 30 days stayed the same.
Lifetime depressant use decreased from 6 percent to 5.8 percent, and use in the previous month dipped from 2.1 percent to 2 percent. Lifetime use of prescription pain relievers decreased from 8 percent to 7.4 percent, while use in the past 30 days dropped from 3.2 percent to 2.9 percent.
Steroids decreased from 1 percent to .8 percent for lifetime use, while the use of steroids within the last 30 days dipped from .4 percent to .3 percent.
The survey also covered: club drugs, such as Ecstasy, Rohypnol, GHB and ketamine; LSD, PCP or hallucinogenic mushrooms; cocaine or crack cocaine; over-the-counter drugs; and prescription amphetamines.
“Reducing substance abuse not only benefits the individual and their family, it is also good for the taxpayers,” Florida Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp wrote in a prepared statement. “For example, underage drinking in Florida costs $3.1 billion annually. Over one-third of those costs are borne by taxpayers.
“The progress that we see in the Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey is good news for taxpayers and good news for our communities,” he said.