Youth drug, alcohol use on slight decline

Some encouraging numbers on youth drug and alcohol usage were revealed during a community event Wednesday at the library.

The numbers of the Iowa Youth Survey are the annual report given to the community by Substance Abuse Treatment Unit of Central Iowa.

The surveys were taken by 918 youth in Marshalltown in the fall of 2012 in sixth, eighth and 11th grades. Overall there was positive news as there was a decline in drinking, smoking tobacco and marijuana usage.

“We are continuing a downward trend, which we are positive about,” said Vickie Lewis, director of professional services of SATUCI.

An example of the lower drinking numbers came in the eighth grade results. A total of 11 percent of the eighth graders surveyed said they had an alcoholic drink in the past 30 days, down from 20 percent in 2010.

Both marijuana and tobacco usage was down among all grade levels surveyed.

An example of that is 7 percent of 11th graders said they have smoked cigarettes one or more times in the past 30 days, down from 11 percent in 2010.

Wednesday’s event drew school counselors, health and service agency leaders and high school students together to talk about what can be done to curb drug and alcohol use among teens.

“We show them the data and try to figure out what we can do together as a community to make a difference,” Lewis said.

Since the surveys are anonymous there are often questions wondering if the youth are telling the truth. Event facilitator Ron Mirr said for the most part they are truthful and the surveys that come in way off base are thrown out of the results.

“We have pretty consistent answers for youth,” Mirr said.

In the end, the goal was to come up with solutions so these numbers trend downward even more into the future.

“The idea is to help kids make healthier choices and to be safer,” Mirr said.