Monday, March 17, 2014

Why an increase in teen drug use in NE Seattle? (Updated)

With the latest media attention, questions are being asked about how Roosevelt High School compares to other schools and why more students are attending school under the influence.

First, it is not just Roosevelt.  Other high schools are reporting an increase in students using/possessing marijuana and alcohol at school.  The difference is that Roosevelt High School administration decided to inform the public since teen drug use is a community problem.

Update: KPLU broadcast a story about an increase in marijuana use on middle and high school campuses throughout Seattle.

However, RHS students increasingly report recent drug use (despite alcohol use rates decreasing between 2006 and 2010).

Source: Washington State Healthy Youth Survey (HYS)

Roosevelt students report the second highest rates of alcohol and marijuana use among Seattle Public Schools high schools, behind Ballard High School students.  Nathan Hale and Garfield High School students are tied for the third highest use rates.

Why are substance use rates increasing in NE Seattle?

First the good news: Parental monitoring
Since 2006, the Prevention WINS coalition and community members focused a great deal of prevention activities on parenting.  Specifically, activities taught parents that they should monitor their teenage children to ensure that they are following family rules about not using drugs. According to HYS data, Eckstein 8th grade students* increasingly report that their parents monitor them.  Between 2006 and 2012, the percent of 8th grade student who reported that their parents know where they are and who they are with when they are not home increased from 73% to 92%.

Now the not-so-good news: Availability 
Between 2006 and 2012, the percent of Eckstein 8th grade students who reported that it would be easy to get marijuana increased from 11% to 29%.  Those reporting that it would be easy to get alcohol increased from 22% to 35%.

The other not-so-good news: Community laws & norms
As reported in an earlier post, the percent of 8th grade student who perceive community laws and norms that are favorable to drug use increased between 2006 and 2012 from 15% to 26%.

Since risk factors have changed dramatically over the past few years, the Prevention WINS coalition is currently conducting a new assessment to determine how to shift focus onto community risk factors when the coalition has been focusing on family risk factors.  The assessment will be complete by the end of the school year.

*Eckstein Middle School 8th grade data is used because former Eckstein students compose the largest group -- but not the majority -- within the Roosevelt freshman class.  Eighth grade risk factor data can also inform onset of use between middle and high school, an important transition time.

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