Each week it seems as if a new article is published with emphasis on the detrimental impact caused by consuming some type of drug. In recognition of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, the Region 4 Prevention Resource Center (PRC4) at East Texas Council On Alcoholism And Drug Abuse (ETCADA) would like to extend an opportunity to provide a brief synopsis of research and data highlighting the extent of adolescent drug and alcohol use in Northeast Texas.
Underage drinking continues to be one of the most serious public health issues within the nation. In fact, prior research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse expressed that 4 in 10 people who begin drinking before the age of 15 are more likely to become alcoholics. Region 4 students surveyed in the 2018 Texas School Survey (TSS), a biennial collection of self-reported alcohol and drug use data from 7th-12th grade students, disclosed that their first encounter with alcohol was at the average age of 13. Furthermore, while 65% of students reported past month and school year use of at least one alcohol product, 30% of students reported that they have engaged in binge drinking of beer, wine coolers, wine, or liquor. Such behaviors among adolescents create pathways to drinking and driving in which regional data from a Texas Department of Transportation’s query database revealed that a total of 236 alcohol-involved crashes included persons under the age of 21 last year.
One cannot provide context for the degree of drug use without stressing the rising use of e-cigarettes among youth. While national data states that tobacco use has generally declined, it appears that national e-cigarette use has skyrocketed. According to the 2018 TSS, about 32% of Region 4 students reported using an electronic vapor product within the past month or school year. Perhaps the most alarming discovery is that the majority of youth believe that they are only vaping flavoring and not nicotine, a key addictive ingredient known for altering methods of attention, learning, mood, and impulse control within the developing brain.
With multiple media reports exposing the increasing numbers of national opioid-related deaths, it is essential to include insight about adolescent opioid use as well. According to the 2018 National Monitoring the Future Survey, a survey sample of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, opioid use among youth has declined. As conveyed by the 2018 TSS, 11.7% of Region 4 students reported consuming non-prescribed codeine cough syrup while 3.2% reported using other non-prescribed opioids such as OxyContin, Percodan, Vicodin, and etc. within the past month or school year.
Not to mention, higher use of non-prescribed opioids were generally reported among high school sophomores.
ETCADA is committed to reducing alcohol and substance abuse and dependency within 23 East Texas counties. If you would like to join us in the fight, feel free to visit one of our Community Coalitions (Harrison County, Panola County, or Henderson County). Please visit our website, Facebook page, or call 903-753-7633 for more details.
Free copies of our 2018 Regional Needs Assessment (RNA) and 2018 Regional Handbook of Risk and Protective Factors are available for download at: www.prcfour.org. The RNA features numerous statistics concerning substance use, health, and disease in Northeast Texas. For more information on the 2018 RNA or to find out how to contribute to the collection of data that will assist Northeast Texas with prevention planning, please contact Calandra Jones, Regional Evaluator, at email@example.com or 903-753-7633.