The results of the 2022 Arizona Youth Survey have been released, and they show statewide declines in use of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana among Arizonans aged 13 to 18. Courtney Kom, outreach coordinator for the local anti-drug coalition, the Parker Area Alliance for Community Empowerment, said this showed their targeting of marijuana and alcohol is working.
“We’re on the right path,” she said.
The Arizona Youth Survey is conducted every two years by the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission. It measures drug and substance use among students in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades.
In the introduction to the report on the survey findings, the ACJC said, “At the school and district level, administrators may use data from this report to guide decision-making around prevention programming and services. Planners at the regional, county, and state levels can use this data to better understand community needs and allocate resources accordingly.
Across all stakeholder levels, the AYS data are used in a variety of ways:
• To examine significant community issues;
• Modify or redesign existing projects or policies;
• Design and implement new projects or policies;
• Secure funding for new projects or policies.”
Kom said PAACE uses these statistics to formulate their master plan for addressing drug and substance use and prevention in La Paz County. She said this plan is always evolving, and it’s essential to obtain grants and other funding.
La Paz County’s participation in the survey was higher than the state average. Four of 10 schools in the county participated, and 283 of 511 qualified students (55 percent) participated. Statewide, just 51,488 of 269,175 qualified students participated, or 19 percent.
When asked about substances they had used at least once in the last 30 days, 1.5 percent of the students in 2022 said they smoked cigarettes, as compared with 4.7 percent in 2018. When it came to vaping or “e-cigarettes,” 9.6 of the students in 2022 said they had used them in the last 30 days. In 2018, that figure was 19.9 percent.
As for alcohol, 13.5 of the students in 2022 said they had used it in the last 30 days. In 2018, 20.2 percent said they had used it.
The data showed very few participants abused prescription drugs or hard drugs like heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. Kom noted many of the statewide anti-drug efforts focused on these hard drugs.
“Kids are getting the message,” she said.
Marijuana use also showed a decline since 2018. In 2022, 10 percent of the participants said they used marijuana in the last 30 days. In 2018, it was 15.7 percent. For marijuana concentrates, it was 8.1 percent in 2022 and 12.3 percent in 2018.
Kom said they are particularly concerned about marijuana “edibles,” which often have a higher concentration of marijuana that what might be smoked. She added that much marijuana grown today has been bred to have a higher level of THC, the chemical that causes the “high.” She said this is a chemical that has proven harmful to the development of young minds.
“If you think marijuana is harmless, think again,” she said.
The survey also examined Adverse Childhood Experiences that could lead a young person to substance abuse. They found 61.2 percent of survey respondents reported having at least one of these experiences, including living with a drug user, alcoholic or someone who had been incarcerated. Other such adverse experiences include living with adults who fought or who put the young person down.
Kom said PAACE will continue to educate the community and young people on how substances can affect their brains and bodies. They will also do what they can to strengthen families and improve communications and relationships between parents and young people. They will continue with activities to encourage young people to stay away from drugs.
Kom said parental disapproval is one major deterrent to substance abuse in young people. The survey showed 90 percent of young people believe their parents would disapprove of their using drugs. Kom added that only 50 percent of respondents said they ever had a talk about drugs with their parents.
“The kids are listening,” she said.
does anyone really believe this?
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