Pubdate: Wed, 03 Aug 2005
Source: Tribune, The (Seymour, IN)
Copyright: 2005 The Tribune
Bookmark: (Youth)


A survey released Monday indicates a downward trend in drug and alcohol use 
among Indiana youth, with rates for many drugs at their lowest since 1991.

Reported use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and inhalants all declined this 
year, in some cases by more than three percentage points, according to an 
annual survey by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana 
University. The center attributed part of the decline to prevention 

Not all the news was positive. More than 5 percent of high school seniors 
surveyed said they used methamphetamine at least once.

That is lower than the national rate of 6.2 percent in 2004, but monthly 
meth use among Indiana students in grades eight, 10 and 12 appears to be 
higher than national rates.

No Surprises Here

Those findings don't surprise Seymour Police Officer Tim Toborg, but he 
added he doesn't see much teen use of meth at Seymour High School, where he 
works as an outreach officer. He also teaches a DARE drug-resistance class 
at Cortland Elementary School.

"It doesn't surprise me as a whole, but I don't see the youth using it here 
like in the middle-age group, people in their late 20s to 35," Toborg said 
Tuesday. "That doesn't say it's not present, but I'm just not seeing it 
here (in high school)."

136,782 Surveyed

The 2005 results were obtained from 140 local surveys of 136,782 students 
in grades six through 12 attending 435 schools. A project at the University 
of Michigan monitors youth drug use nationally, but its 2005 results were 
not expected to be released until later this year.

JoBeth McCarthy-Jean, coordinator of external affairs for the Prevention 
Center, said the center, state agencies, schools, communities and nonprofit 
groups were working together in trying to delay first-time use of 
cigarettes, drugs and alcohol. A program called Afternoons R.O.C.K., for 
example, involves after-school activities from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., when many 
students with little to do might use drugs.

"We can all say that youth are making better choices," McCarthy-Jean said.

Toborg agreed.

"I'd like to think it's the education," Toborg said. "If we keep educating 
them about the effects, they won't use it. We're always teaching in DARE 
about the effects of these drugs.

While Toborg teaches DARE at Cortland, Officer Greg O'Brien presents the 
DARE program at other Seymour Community Schools.

They talk about meth use but also what Toborg described as gateway drugs -- 
alcohol, tobacco and inhalants -- that lead to stronger drugs like meth.

Afternoons Rock At Crothersville

Afternoons R.O.C.K. has been used by Crothersville Community Schools 
through Crothersville Church of the Nazarene.

"There is a lot of fear right now about keeping our kids safe and this 
program really helps ease a lot of parents' concerns," Pam Wooten of the 
church said this spring. It's geared toward children 10 to 14 years old.

The survey showed that daily cigarette use among youth in grades 6-12 fell 
to 9.3 percent, less than half that of 1996 rates. The center attributed 
that to prevention programs and retailers cracking down on cigarette sales 
to minors.

After three years of increases, inhalant use among all grades either 
declined or stayed steady. But the findings showed that younger students in 
grades 8 to 10 were more likely to have tried inhalants than high school 
juniors and seniors.

Pot Rates Still High

Indiana rates for marijuana use are still higher than those reported in 
1991 and 1992. For example, 15.6 percent of high school seniors surveyed in 
1991 reported using marijuana at least monthly. The percentage this year 
was 17.8 percent, but that is down slightly from a year ago.

On the other hand, almost 60 percent of 12th graders reported using alcohol 
monthly in 1991. It has been declining for several years and stood at 41.8 
percent this year.

Nearly 42 percent of seniors reported monthly use of cigarettes in 1997 and 
1998, and this year it is 26.5 percent. It is slightly lower for 11th graders.

Steve Pasierb, president of New York-based Partnership for a Drug-Free 
America, said he was not surprised about the Indiana survey results.

"Things are going in the right direction," he said. "What is happening in 
Indiana on alcohol, tobacco and marijuana is going on at the national level."

He cautioned against parents and society becoming complacent about the 
trend, however, saying that occurred in the early to mid-1990s, and use of 
those drugs among youth increased. He said one of the new scourges is 
prescription drug abuse among youth.

According to a study released by the Drug-Free organization in April, about 
one in five teenagers have tried prescription pain-killers such as Vicodin 
and OxyContin to get high. The 17th annual study on teen drug abuse found 
that more teens had abused a prescription painkiller in 2004 than Ecstasy, 
cocaine, crack or LSD. 
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