Results from the 2010 Dayton Area Drug Survey (DADS) conducted by the Center for Interventions, Treatment, and Addictions Research (CITAR) suggest the long-running trend of declining drug use by teens may be ending.
The percentage of 12th grade students who reported ever having been drunk on alcohol rose from 54.3 percent in 2008 to 55.2 percent in 2010, with similar increases for seventh and ninth graders. For the first time in many years, the percentage of teens reporting experience with cigarettes and smokeless tobacco also increased, as did the percentage reporting marijuana use.
While the increases were generally small, they may be a harbinger of an upward swing in youth drug use. The findings follow the 2008 DADS results, which suggested the earlier declines in drug use among high school seniors might have stalled. The Dayton area appears to be following a national trend. Several recent national surveys also suggest the decline has leveled out and may be reversing, at least for some drugs.
Conducted every two years, DADS is a cross-sectional study that provides estimates of teen drug use in the Dayton region. First administered in 1990, DADS is collaboration between the CITAR and area school districts. In spring 2010, 16,307 students from 15 Dayton-area school districts volunteered to participate in the anonymous survey. The majority of the sample was white (about 82 percent), suburban, and nearly evenly split between boys and girls.
“The good news in the 2010 DADS findings is that the percentage of young people who use drugs other than alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana heavily is very small, much less than 1 percent of the sample in any given grade, said Russel Falck, associate director of CITAR and associate professor of community health.
“Overall, DADS results suggest the need for ongoing, intensive drug abuse prevention programs in the schools that extend beyond the ninth grade, when such efforts currently often end. Our data suggest that the percentage of teenagers who will get drunk for the first time will double between the ninth and 12th grades. Marijuana use will also come close to doubling. Implementing and sustaining evidence-based, public health-oriented school and community prevention programs can help decrease drug-related problems among teens,” he said. VS