Alcohol remains the most widely abused drug among middle and high school students in the Miami Valley, while marijuana use ranks second among 12th graders, according to results from the Dayton Area Drug Survey (DADS) conducted by the Center for Interventions, Treatment and Addictions Research (CITAR) at Boonshoft School of Medicine. For the first time, CITAR received funding to conduct the DADS from the Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Services Board.
DADS is a biennial, cross-sectional study that provides estimates of non-medical drug use by school-aged teenagers in the Dayton, Ohio, area. First administered in 1990, the DADS is a collaborative effort between CITAR and area school districts. In early 2016, 10,786 students from 20 Miami Valley area schools completed the survey. The majority was white (81.6 percent), followed by African Americans (7.2 percent), other (6.7 percent) and Asian (4.6 percent). The sample was nearly evenly split between boys and girls.
DADS assessed the use of e-cigarettes for the first time in 2016. The lifetime prevalence of e-cigarette use among 12th graders was 31.6 percent. Electronic cigarettes ranked third in terms of lifetime prevalence of use among 12th graders, while tobacco cigarettes ranked fourth, indicating a 5.6 percent decline. Heroin use among 12th graders also fell, as did the use of non-prescribed pain pills. DADS also assessed the use of marijuana concentrates for the first time. Among 12th graders, 16.6 percent reported lifetime use of marijuana concentrates.
"The data suggest that efforts to prevent teen drug use have met with mixed success. Thus, we again point out the need to implement on-going drug abuse prevention programs in the schools that extend beyond the ninth grade," said Robert Carlson, Ph.D., CITAR director and DADS principal investigator. "School is the place where large numbers of young people congregate, and there is strong evidence that initiation of drug use continues throughout the high school years."