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Marijuana use up in latest local survey of teens and drugs

Amy Macechko, health and wellness coordinator for the Talawanda District, recently presented findings from a drug-use survey conducted last November among students in grades 7 through 12.

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“It’s trending in a positive direction,” she said, “although there was an uptick in marijuana use in the recent survey.”

The survey is conducted every other year with students in regional districts in order to find trends in use among students of alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and prescription drugs. Questions in the survey focus on use within the previous 30 days and the age of first use of the drug.

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Findings of the November survey among Talawanda students included:

  • Alcohol is the primary drug of abuse
  • Marijuana is perceived as the least harmful and use has surpassed tobacco use
  • Drugs of abuse are most often used at home or a friend’s house and on weekends
  • In the case of alcohol, it is obtained most often from friends and parents

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One of the bright spots for Talawanda, she said, was an increase in the age of first use of a drug. The survey found students reporting of their first use at an average of 13.5 years of age. The survey conducted in 2003 had that average age pegged at 12.

“We want to delay the onset of drug use as long as possible. If we can get that to age 15, it is more likely they will not have a substance use disorder,” Macechko said. “The further we move toward age 15, the better. This is significant.”

The recent trend toward E-Vapor, or vaping, has also caused concern in terms of the drug use survey and will be a topic of upcoming drug education efforts, she said.

Only half of students surveyed said they feel vaping is harmful, and 16.5 percent of Talawanda students responded they had used it once a month or more often. That compares to 14 percent at the regional level, surpassing marijuana use.

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