Substance abuse declines in Routt County |

Substance abuse declines in Routt County

Survey shows downward trends for student drug and alcohol use

Jack Weinstein

Substance abuse among Routt County sixth- through 12-graders is trending downward, according to a survey released this week by Grand Futures Prevention Coalition.

With a couple of exceptions, fewer students in those grades reported drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana or taking prescription drugs than students surveyed in 2008, results from the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey indicated. And for the most part, a lower percentage of students surveyed this year reported using those substances within a month of the survey, compared to student responses in 2008.

"I think it looks pretty good," Grand Futures Managing Direc­tor Dervla Lacy said. "We seem to be below the state average in most of those categories."

Grand Futures serves Moffat, Grand and Routt counties and works to promote healthy lifestyles through alternatives to substance abuse. Lacy said although the organization has had an effect, the entire community, including parents, schools and law enforcement, has banded together to help curb substance abuse.

According to the survey results, only a higher percentage of seventh-, ninth- and 11th-graders have smoked marijuana compared with their 2008 counterparts. Only ninth-graders reported drinking alcohol at a higher percentage than in 2008. Marijuana use in the 30 days before the survey increased among ninth- and 10th-graders, compared with 2008.

Lacy said 852 sixth- through 12th-graders completed the 142-question, anonymous survey in spring. She said parents were allowed to opt their children out of taking the survey before it was administered.

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Lacy said Grand Futures recently has focused its efforts on reducing alcohol abuse among middle- and high school-aged students. She said the positive survey results don't mean Grand Futures will change what it does.

"We could see the numbers go up in the next two years again," she said. "It doesn't change our focus. It just might shift our focus to some of the other areas we haven't focused on."

An example of such an area could be marijuana, the use of which has increased at some grade levels, and in frequency, since the 2008 survey, Lacy said. She said Grand Futures also could focus more on preventing prescription drug abuse, which she said is a concern among school district officials.

South Routt School District Superintendent Scott Mader said it's important for the district to know about substance abuse issues so it can create programs to educate or assist students. And he said the survey data also can assist the district with grant funding.

"If there are some grants available out there, they're going to want that kind of information to justify the funding," Mader said. "But mainly, it's to be preventative."

Steamboat Springs Super­intendent Shalee Cunningham said in an e-mail that the district participates in the survey every two years. She said that allows the district to get as much information as possible about student substance abuse.

Cunningham said Grand Fut­ures also would be surveying parents to see if their perception of adolescent substance abuse is the same as what students revealed in the survey. After the results from the parents' survey are completed, Cunningham said, the district would work closely with Grand Futures on an education campaign.

"Our counselors are also very aware and will be working with staff, police and other agencies in town to help combat this issue," she said.

Work ongoing

Cunningham said Steamboat's results, such as those from schools across Routt County, show a decrease in alcohol and other drug abuse.

Grand Futures wouldn't provide the survey results from each individual school district. Lacy said the districts, not Grand Futures, own the survey results, and she wasn't allowed to make each district's results public.

Cunningham said the district would make the survey public after it was presented to the Steamboat Springs School Board. That presentation tentatively is scheduled for December or January, after results from the parent survey have been compiled.

Mader said he would have to consider whether to make the survey public.

Hayden Superintendent Mike Luppes is out of town and couldn't be reached for comment.

Grand Futures also wouldn't provide countywide results for

the entire survey. Lacy said the county's superintendents agreed to not release the full survey results.

Students were surveyed about substance abuse, delinquency, personal safety/violence, school and family, mental health, physical health, and sexual behavior at the high school level only.

The Steamboat Pilot & Today only requested data from questions related to substance abuse.

The survey cost $8,062, Lacy said. She said it was paid for by a grant from Colorado Prevention Partners, overseen by the Col­­­orado Department of Public Health and Environment. Results were compiled by the Denver-based OMNI Institute, a social science research firm.

OMNI also will compile the results from the parent survey, but that survey was created by Grand Futures and is much shorter than the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey. South Routt parents already have taken the survey. Steamboat and Hayden parents are scheduled to take the survey during upcoming parent-teacher conferences.

Lacy said she was encouraged by the results. She said Grand Futures would use them to create programs to continue its mission of preventing substance abuse.

"I just think it's important that we monitor these changes and we, as a community, are on top of the trends every two years," she said. "I think its very important and a great thing to partner with the schools on this initiative because it has a lot of helpful information not only for us, but for all the health and human service agencies in Routt County. We all use it for strategic planning."

Survey results

Have you ever drank alcohol in your lifetime?

Grade 2008 2010 Difference

6th 0% 0% no change

7th 16% 16% no change

8th 46% 26% 20% decrease

9th 64% 58% 6% decrease

10th 68% 68% no change

11th 84% 80% 4% decrease

12th 88% 86% 2% decrease

In the past 30 days, have you drank alcohol?

Grade 2008 2010 Difference

6th 0% 0% no change

7th 11% 7% 4% decrease

8th 26% 6% 20% decrease

9th 32% 37% 5% increase

10th 41% 35% 6% decrease

11th 64% 43% 21% decrease

12th 69% 55% 14% decrease

In the past 30 Days, have you had 5 or more drinks within a couple of hours?

Grade 2008 2010 Difference

6th 0% 0% no change

7th 0% 0% no change

8th 12% 0% 12% decrease

9th 20% 20% no change

10th 28% 22% 6% decrease

11th 43% 30% 13% decrease

12th 56% 34% 22% decrease

Have you used marijuana in your lifetime?

Grade 2008 2010 Difference

6th 0% 0% no change

7th 0% 4% 4% increase

8th 14% 4% 10% decrease

9th 24% 33% 9% increase

10th 43% 42% 1% decrease

11th 56% 60% 4% increase

12th 74% 34% 40% decrease

In the past 30 days, have you used marijuana?

Grade 2008 2010 Difference

6th 0% 0% no change

7th 0% 0% no change

8th 8% 0% 8% decrease

9th 12% 14% 2% increase

10th 22% 24% 2% increase

11th 31% 28% 3% decrease

12th 45% 26% 19% decrease

Have you used prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription in your lifetime, including painkillers such as OxyContin, Codeine, or Percocet; stimulants such as like Ritalin or Adderall; or depressants such as Valium or Xanax?

Grade 2008 2010 Difference

6th 0% 0% no change

7th 0% 7% 7% increase

8th 11% 8% 3% decrease

9th 15% 22% 7% increase

10th 29% 14% 15% decrease

11th 35% 14% 21% decrease

12th 50% 10% 40% decrease

Survey participation

Female: 442

Male: 410

6th grade: 29

7th grade: 192

8th grade: 159

9th grade: 164

10th grade: 146

11th grade: 105

12th grade: 57

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