Alcohol, pot use a concern in teen survey results

The latest annual survey of Marshalltown teens had a mixed bag of results when it comes to alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use.

Vickie Lewis, director of professional services at Substance Abuse Treatment Unit of Central Iowa, gave a report on the survey results to the Marshall County Board of Health Tuesday.

A total of 972 students in the Marshalltown Community School District took the survey last fall from grades sixth, eighth and 11th. From the 11th graders surveyed, 23 percent said they have had one or more alcoholic drinks in a 30-day period.

“What we know is that alcohol is our most abused drug,” Lewis said

Tobacco use among 11th graders was at 11 percent. While the tobacco number is up from last year, overall it is far down from the 1999 number of 39 percent.

“Tobacco (use) has had a nice trend down,” Lewis said.

Marijuana use was of concern to local officials as 17 percent of the 11th graders surveyed said they have smoked marijuana one or more times in a 30-day period. That is up from an 8 percent figure last year.

“The thing that concerns us the most is what’s going on with alcohol and marijuana,” Lewis said.

Lewis and her colleague at SATUCI, Shannon Chyma, said many teens believe there will be no repercussions for smoking marijuana, either physically or legally.

The recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado doesn’t help prevention efforts locally, they said.

“It’s a little disconcerting,” Chyma said.

Overall, the numbers point to positive results considering where the usage was in the past for these drugs.

“The community as a whole has made some differences,” Lewis said.

Also at the meeting, the volunteer board of health elected to maintain the same officers for the next year as Deanna Bachman will stay on as chair, Dr. David Thomas as vice chair and Dr. Ken Lyons as secretary.