The Union County Drug Free Youth Coalition has released the results of a survey it took of area adults on their perceptions about alcohol and substance abuse in middle and high school.

The Union County Drug Free Youth Coalition has released the results of a survey it took of area adults on their perceptions about alcohol and substance abuse in middle and high school.

Seventy-nine percent of the respondents said they believe alcohol is the most-abused substance, while 42 percent think heroin is the most important substance-abuse issue in Union County.

"I was surprised somewhat that 79 percent of adults recognized that alcohol is frequently abused," said Mike Witzky, executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Union County.

"Fewer kids use heroin, but that tends to get a lot of attention," he said. "But there was a clear recognition in the survey that alcohol is important because of the number of kids who abuse it."

Witzky said communities are in a bind when it comes to alcohol because "as soon as you come of age, it is not only socially acceptable but expected that you'll drink. And some adults don't appreciate that our youths often can't handle what alcohol is doing to their judgment and to their behavior."

The survey of 104 Union county adults - also known as the "key leader survey" - will be followed in May by a survey of as many as 2,000 students in seventh, ninth and eleventh grades in three Union County school districts.

"It will be interesting to compare the adult perceptions about alcohol and substance abuse to that of the youth," Witzky said. "But having both perspectives will allow us to gauge the community's needs and desires when it comes to prevention."

Other survey findings include:

• 54 percent think prescription drugs are the second most-abused substance behind alcohol.

• 52 percent believe marijuana is the third most-abused substance.

• 95 percent of respondents said they ae "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about substance abuse among youth.

• 86 percent of respondents believe substance abuse is either an "extremely big" or "a big" problem among youth.

• No respondents believe substance abuse is "not a problem" among youth.

• 62 percent of respondents think youths obtain alcohol from friends and 68 percent belieive they receive prescription drugs from their parents by stealing them.

• 61 percent of the businesses surveyed said they are worried about the alcohol and substance abuse of their employees.

• 45 percent of the businesses surveyed did not believe they have adequate information or treatment services for their employees.

Witzky said the student survey will be conducted anonymously to encourage participation and candor.