Chesterton Tribune

Study: Porter County students at high risk for drug and alcohol use

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Youth in Porter County are at a higher risk for substance abuse than are their cohorts statewide in a wide variety of categories.

That’s one of the findings of the 2011 Porter County Epidemiological Profile prepared by the Community Research and Service Center at Valparaiso University.

“In helping to understand why youth may or may not become involved in problem behaviors in adolescence and beyond, studies have identified various risk factors that can predict alcohol and drug use and other risky behaviors,” the profile’s executive summary states.

Risk factors in which Porter County students scored higher than those in the average Indiana county include the following:

Family management: 28.6 percent of sixth graders are a high risk in this category; 29.7 percent of 12th graders.

Family conflict: 46.1 percent of sixth graders are at high risk; 40.2 percent of 12th graders.

Parental attitudes toward drug use: 13.2 percent of sixth graders are at high risk; 53.3 percent of 12th graders.

Parental attitudes favorable towards anti-social behavior: 39.2 percent of sixth graders are at high risk; 49.9 percent of 12th graders.

Rebelliousness: 33 percent of sixth graders are at high risk; 31.5 percent of 12th graders.

Early initiation of drug use: 20.2 percent of sixth graders are at high risk: 29.9 percent of 12th graders.

Perceived risk of drug use: 26.2 percent of sixth graders are at high risk: 40.9 percent of 12th graders.

Anti-social peers: 42.4 percent of sixth graders are at high risk: 61.4 percent of 12th graders.

Peer rewards for anti-social involvement: 26.4 percent of sixth graders are at high risk: 40.2 percent of 12th graders.

In fact, in only two of the risk factors did Porter County students score better than, or roughly the same as, their cohorts elsewhere in the state:

Academic failure: 26.2 percent of sixth graders are at high risk; 25.2 percent of 12th graders.

Low school commitment: 37 percent of sixth graders at high risk: 46.1 percent of 12th graders.

Participation

Mitigating the risk factors somewhat are generally higher rates than statewide averages in youth “participation” in a variety of activities. That, Porter County students participate more than their cohorts do in after-school classes, organized family activities, school arts, music, or drama programs, and school clubs and intramurals.

But they participate less than their cohorts do in religious related activities and school sports teams.

And in both Porter County and statewide there “are high rates of non-participation in community activities.”

Alcohol Use

In 2010, Porter County students exceeded state averages in binge-drinking in every grade but sixth.

The most reported reason for drinking by 12th graders—46.3 percent of them—was “to have a good time with friends.” Other reasons: “To relax or relieve tension” (28.2 percent); “To experiment” (27.2 percent); “Because it tastes good” (23.8 percent); “To feel good or get high” (21.5 percent); and “To get away from problems” (17.4 percent).

And in every grade, Porter County students think it’s easier to obtain alcohol than their cohorts do statewide. Nearly 3 percent of sixth graders report getting it from family members; nearly 8 percent of ninth graders do.

Marijuana

In 2010, 23.2 percent of Porter County 10th graders reported monthly use of marijuana; 20.1 percent of 11th graders did; and 19.7 percent of 12th graders did.

By the time students reach ninth grade, 28.1 percent of them have tried marijuana at least once and many of them multiple times; by the time they reach 12th grade, fully 40.7 percent of them have tried marijuana and 14.8 percent of them have used it 40 or more times.

On the topic of occasional marijuana use, 22.7 percent of Porter County students see no risk; 17.6 percent see a great risk.

Opioids and Heroin

In 2010, 0.6 percent of Porter County sixth graders reported using heroin in the last month; 1.7 percent of 12th graders did.

In the same year, 98.8 percent of sixth graders reported never using heroin; 95.6 percent of 12th graders reported never using it.

“Heroin use by Porter County students is similar to patterns of use across the state,” the profile stated.

On the other hand, Porter County ranks third of the 17 most populous counties in the state for both use of and dependence on heroin among all residents.

Cocaine

In 2010 there was not much use of cocaine by Porter County students at any grade level: 98.9 percent of sixth graders reported never having using it; 88.3 percent of 12th graders.

Twenty percent of Porter County students see a moderate risk to occasional use of cocaine, 71.4 percent see a great risk, and “Most do not see their friends as approving of occasional use.”

Other Drugs

Amphetamines: 14 percent of 12th graders reported having used amphetamines at least once.

Methamphetamines: most students report not having used meth, but still Porter County students exceed state use in seventh, eighth, nine, and 10th grades.

Inhalants: 1.4 percent of sixth graders reported monthly use of inhalants, 5.9 percent of 10th graders did, and 1.3 percent of 12th graders did; on the other hand, 2.5 percent of sixth graders reported using inhalants at least once, 10.5 percent of eighth graders did, and 12.4 percent of 12th graders did.

Ecstasy: 0.4 percent of sixth graders reported using ecstasy at least once, 4.0 percent of eighth graders did, and 10.1 percent of 12th graders did.

OTCs, Ritalin, Rx,

and Painkillers

Porter County students exceed statewide averages in nearly every category for use of over-the-counter drugs, Ritalin and Adderal, prescription drugs and prescription pain killers.

 

 

Posted 6/24/2011