Alcohol, Tobacco, Drug Use Among Clark County Youth Trends

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Most Clark County students are saying no to alcohol, drug use, and other risky behaviors. This trend is consistent with youth behavior statewide according to results of the biennial Healthy Youth Survey. The anonymous survey is taken by more than 210,000 Washington State public school students in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades every two years, including more than 13,000 Clark County students. It covers a variety of topics including use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco; gangs; gambling; physical activity, and more.

“Although the survey results show some good news, they also reveal that too many Clark County youth are still putting their health at risk,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Health Officer. “We will continue to work with our community partners to give youth the support and information they need to make healthy lifestyle choices and decrease risky behaviors.”

Overall, drug use, alcohol use, tobacco use, and obesity rates have changed little in Washington State or in Clark County since the last survey in 2006. A comparison of Clark County findings with the state as a whole follows:

* Almost one in five 10th graders report having five or more drinks in a row at least once in the past two weeks in both Clark County (17.7%) and Washington State.

* About one in 10 students in 10th and 12th grades statewide say they used a prescription painkiller to get high within the past 30 days. In Clark County the figures are 9.1 percent for 10th graders and 10.8 percent for 12th graders.

* There�s some good news about diet. The percent of kids in grades 10 and 12 statewide who reported drinking two or more sodas a day dropped from about 20 percent in 2006 to about 15 percent in 2008. In Clark County the 2008 figures are 12.8 percent for 10th graders and 14.9 percent for 12th graders.


* Statewide, smoking rates remain low. Fourteen 14 percent of 10th graders report smoking a cigarette at least once in the past 20 days in 2008. In Clark County, that figure is 15.8 percent, about the same as reported two years ago.

* Statewide, 7 percent of 8th and 10th graders gambled at least once a month in the past year. Similar figures in Clark County are 6.6 percent for 8th graders and 6.4 percent for 10th graders.

* About one in five 8th graders statewide report skipping school in the past month. In Clark County, that figure is similar�about 18.7 percent.

* Statewide, about 8 percent of 8th and 10th graders have been a member of a gang during the past year. In Clark County, those figures are similar - 9.1 percent of 8th graders and 8.8 percent of 10th graders.

* Statewide, about 9 percent of 10th-graders report they tried to commit suicide in the past year, which is a similar rate to recent years. Clark County, at 9 percent, is similar to the state.

* Only 70 percent of 10th graders statewide say they always wear a seat belt statewide. The figure in Clark County is 68.8 percent, down from 73.1 percent in 2006.

Survey results are used to plan, implement, and evaluate youth programs around the state. The survey is a joint effort of the Washington Department of Health, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Department of Social and Health Services, Liquor Control Board, the Family Policy Council, and the Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development.