Dublin Villager

Student survey

Alcohol, marijuana drugs of choice, but use is down


About three in 10 Dublin seniors reported drinking alcohol at least once a month.

The Dublin ACT Coalition last week released the findings of the Primary Prevention Awareness, Attitudes and Use survey taken by Dublin eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders in the fall.

The survey has been given to Dublin City School District students since 1988 to find out how many are using alcohol, drugs and tobacco, said GeorgiAnn Diniaco, a member of the Dublin A.C.T. Coalition and a drug and alcohol counselor at Dublin Coffman High School.

"It helps us as a coalition to find best practices to put in place and programming for young people," she said during a presentation held April 29 in the Dublin Community Recreation Center.

The goal of Dublin ACT is to delay to use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco among Dublin youths to keep it from damaging the brain, which continues to develop until age 25, Diniaco said.

"If we came up with a drinking age based on what we know today, it would be 25," she said.

Drinking is the most prevalent activity admitted to by the 3,045 Dublin eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders surveyed.

"Alcohol is the No. 1 abused drug," Diniaco said.

According to the survey, 32 percent of seniors said they drank alcohol at least once a month; 11 percent of sophomores admitted to the same behavior and 1 percent of eighth-graders said they drank at least once a month.

The students that reported drinking said they did so in excess; 363 of students surveyed said they'd consumed five or more drinks in one sitting in the past month, Diniaco said.

"The scary thing is that they didn't see a lot of risk in that," she said.

The survey said 948 students surveyed admitted to using alcohol at least once in their lives, Diniaco said.

According to the survey, 444 students surveyed said they'd gotten into a car driven by someone who had been drinking.

"I think we need to arm young people with information on how to get out of that situation," Diniaco said.

The survey also found 291 students surveyed smoked marijuana at least once a month and 521 admitted to trying it at least once.

The rise of e-cigarettes have made it possible for students to smoke tobacco and marijuana without others noticing, Diniaco said.

"It makes it super easy, even if they're in health class," she said.

"It looks like a pen. ... Kids are getting away with quite a bit right here."

Dublin students are also riding in a car driven by friends under the influence of marijuana.

Diniaco said 465 of the students surveyed said they'd gotten into a car driven by someone who had been smoking marijuana.

Students are using other drugs as well, but not at as great a rate.

According to survey results, 246 students admitted to using the prescription drugs of others at least once in their lifetime; 108 students used others' prescription drugs at least once a month.

Dublin A.C.T. Youth Council members said students often use other's ADHD medicine during college testing time.

When it comes to heroin, 70 students reported trying it at least once and 58 of the students surveyed said they were using it regularly.

While drugs and alcohol can impact the developing minds of teens, they also cause addictions more quickly in teens than adults, Diniaco said.

Teens can develop chemical dependency within five to 15 months of use, Diniaco said. Middle school students can become addicted within five to 15 weeks of use.

It can take adults years to develop chemical dependency, she said.

But the survey didn't provide all bad news.

The number of students that reported using drugs and alcohol were down from the 2011 survey in every category, but cigarettes and regular use of the prescription drugs of others.

Fewer Dublin students surveyed used drugs and alcohol than the national average in every category except prescription drug abuse.

"We really do have a majority of kids that choose not to use," Diniaco said.

To keep students from using drugs and alcohol, Diniaco said parents need to set a clear and consistent message of no use and set boundaries.

The community also needs to be involved, Diniaco said.

"It's important for us as a family, community (and) sports club ... that using is not part of this," she said.