The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

May 9, 2013

Underage alcohol usage in grades 8-12 in county declines; pot, prescription use on the rise

ENID, Okla. — Efforts to combat underage drinking appear to be working.

That’s the assessment we gather from the 2012 Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment survey for Garfield County.

According to data, there was a significant decline in past 30-day underage alcohol use from 2008 to 2012 for eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders.

The survey showed 15.8 percent of eighth-graders had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days in 2012, down from 28.4 percent in 2008.

For high school seniors, alcohol use fell from 53.2 percent in 2008 to 42.2 percent in 2012.

PreventionWorkz, Garfield County Drug and Alcohol Coalition and local law enforcement agencies have been hitting the issue of teen alcohol use hard in the past few years, and the results seem to be showing.

In addition to continuing education efforts on the dangers of alcohol abuse, these agencies have conducted operations checking compliance of stores and restaurants when it comes to alcohol sales.

The effort done the past few years has worked. The numbers show it.

The survey showed some other data that is much more troubling.

Marijuana use increased significantly among 10th-graders.

In 2008, 10 percent of 10th-graders admitted to using marijuana, while in 2012, the number grew to 16 percent.

Among 12th-graders, the survey showed 11.2 percent used pot in 2008, compared to 18.3 percent in 2012.

Prescription drug use tripled among 12th-graders, increasing from 3.2 percent in 2008 to 9.6 percent in 2012.

A similar educational effort that helped bring down the alcohol statistics is needed to deal with the drug issues.

PreventionWorkz is working toward that now. grant focusing on prescription drug use.

With the funding available, it’s nearly impossible to attack on all fronts. PreventionWorkz and others have to choose their battles.

They’ve been successful on the alcohol front because of the strong recent efforts.

We hope to see similar results with more of an effort to handle the drug situation.

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