Study Shows Drug Use Among Young Down

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The 2005 Florida Youth Substance Abuse survey is good news for Bay District Schools' director of drug prevention.

"We're excited about the areas we have been able to show that prevention programs are effective with our kids and the data will also assist us in identifying areas we need to continue to work hard in," says, Anne Kirkpatrick, Drug Free Schools Coordinator.

This year's survey does not include county-by-county statistics, but it does include two Bay County high schools, and when you look at the results compared to last year's numbers, the trend shows drug use is down in most areas.

But alcohol abuse is still a problem.

Did you know alcohol is a drug, and the most common drug abused by our youth? Even though numbers are down, state statistics show more than 30 percent of children and youth abuse alcohol even though their underage.

Here locally we do have a problem with alcohol consumption among our youth. On our last Florida Youth Substance Abuse data that yielded Bay County information, 35 percent of our middle and high school students said they had used alcohol in the last 30 days, so that's recent use of alcohol. Those figures are higher than the state numbers.

Kirkpatrics says our surroundings may be to blame.

"Our youth here are at an increase risk when you think of the environment around them, things such as spring break, and when our youth see the excess of spring break they see that as the norm."

Statewide use of hard drugs like ecstasy, methamphetamines, cocaine and marijuana is down considerably with less than two percent of users in most categories, but in Bay County use of drugs in the same categories is up.

Ironically, in a county where meth abuse runs rampant, local use among youth here in Bay County is less than it is statewide.

Bay district officials say they will continue to preach drug prevention. In the meantime Gov. Bush has promised over $300 million in drug prevention funding in 2006.

The survey shows an increase in female usage rates as well as an increase in prescription drug abuse.