Iowa: Positive News About Teenage Substance Abuse

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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The 2008 Iowa Youth Survey shows fewer Iowa teenagers report alcohol and marijuana use. The survey, which was conducted in October of 2008, found 81 percent of students reported consuming no alcohol within the past 30 days. Students were also asked about binge drinking, defined as five or more alcoholic drinks within a couple of hours; 87 percent of all students surveyed reported no binge drinking.

Both these figures are an improvement over the 2005 survey results. Additionally, 94 percent of these students reported no marijuana use.

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"These figures show us that prevention messages do work," said Iowa Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) Behavioral Health Division Director Kathy Stone. "When parents, schools and the community work together to address problems like teenage alcohol and drug use, positive things can happen. It's important now to continue that work so the percentage of students who abstain from drugs and alcohol will continue to grow."

In contrast to encouraging results regarding drugs and alcohol, the survey raises concern in other areas. When asked if they had received a threatening or hurtful message from another student through the Internet or text messaging, 10 percent of all students surveyed indicated they had received one or more messages. When asked if they had made a plan about how to attempt suicide in the past year, 9 percent of all students answered yes; 15 percent of 11th grade girls said yes.

The 2008 Iowa Youth Survey is the twelfth in a series of surveys that have been completed every three years since 1975. In 2008, students in grades 6, 8 and 11 attending Iowa public and private schools were questioned about their behaviors, attitudes and beliefs. For the first time in 2008, the survey was conducted online. The survey is a joint effort by the Iowa Departments of Public Health, Education, Human Rights, and the Office of Drug Control Policy. Analysis is prepared by the Iowa Consortium for Substance Abuse Research and Evaluation at the University of Iowa.

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