Student use above 2009 results, below national average
One in three students of Dublin's class of 2012 reported drinking alcohol at least once a month, and nearly one out of five juniors reported the same behavior.
Dublin Adolescents and Community Together, or A.C.T., last week shared the results of the Primary Prevention Awareness, Attitude and Use Survey taken by 3,040 Dublin eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders in fall 2011.
Results from the anonymous survey show Dublin teens are below the national average on many behaviors, but set against 2009 results, drug and alcohol use for some has increased. Monthly alcohol use for 10th-graders increased from 2009 numbers, while it fell for both eighth- and 12th-graders.
Binge drinking, defined as having five drinks or more at an event, was reported by nearly one in five 10th-graders, while 2 percent of eighth-graders and 33 percent of seniors reported the same behavior.
Students that did report drinking had started at a young age. The eighth-graders who reported drinking started at age 12, and 10th-graders said they first drank at age 14. The average starting age for seniors who reported drinking was 15.
GeorgiAnn Diniaco, Dublin City Schools' Safe and Drug Free Schools director, said both students and parents need to realize alcohol impacts development, as the brain grows until about age 23.
"The use of alcohol is truly affecting the functions of the brain," she said.
When it comes to marijuana use, Dublin is on par with the national average, said Diniaco.
Only 1.5 percent of eighth-graders reported smoking marijuana once a month, while 16 percent of 10th-graders said they used the drug. One in four of 2011 seniors reported using marijuana at least once a month.
Marijuana is a difficult drug to deal with, Diniaco said, because some states allow it even though it impacts the development of teen's brains.
"Talk about a mixed message," she said. "We need to be on the same page on this."
Fewer than 1 percent of eighth-graders reported using someone else's prescription drugs to get high at least once a month. The percentage of students increased in the high school as 5 percent of 10th-graders and 6 percent of 12th-graders reported using the prescription drugs of others.
"We have some kids who believe it's OK to share prescription drugs," Diniaco said.
Other drugs were also covered in the survey as 4 percent of 10th- and 12th-graders reported using cocaine and crack. A small percentage of students also reported using heroin and designer drugs.
Diniaco said ecstacy, also called "molly," is being used by students.
"This is the reality," Diniaco said. "This is what is really happening in Dublin."
The survey also questioned students about riding in a car with someone who has been drinking or smoking marijuana.
According to survey results, more than one in five Dublin teens surveyed reported riding with someone who had been drinking and 22 percent said they have ridden in a car with someone who had smoked marijuana.
While the survey queried students on alcohol, drug and tobacco use, it also examined social behavior such as educational and sports activities.
Numbers show Dublin students are involved. According to the survey, 76 percent of eighth-graders reported being involved in educational activities, along with 72 percent of sophomores and 68 percent of seniors.
Slightly more than half of last year's seniors also reported working.
"When kids participate in something meaningful, they're less likely to use," Diniaco said.
It won't guarantee teens being free of drug or alcohol use, though, she said, noting that social teens often have more of a chance to drink or use drugs.
"You have to provide a clear, consistent no-use message," Diniaco said.
The survey revealed some bright spots, however, as almost two in five seniors reported never drinking, along with more than half of 10th-graders and 86 percent of eighth-graders.
"Not everyone is using," said Courtney MaGinn, student presenter and a Dublin Coffman junior.