Survey says drug use up in District 113
Alcohol and marijuana use up in District 113
Updated: November 30, 2012 8:19AM
DEERFIELD — Marijuana and alcohol use are up from two years ago amongst District 113 teenagers, according to the 2012 Illinois Youth Survey, which was conducted this past spring. But for one Deerfield High School parent, the information provided can be a little misleading.
“The survey had, as a parent, somewhat mixed information,” Susie Wexler, a DHS parent and member of Parent: The Anti-Drug said. “It’s a misperception.”
By misperception, Wexler pointed out that 85 percent of surveyed 12th graders in the district said it would be “easy” for them to access alcohol, not that 85 percent of 12th graders actually drink alcohol.
However, the survey did show a 30 percent increase in the number of students who used alcohol in the past 30 days, comparing 12th graders of 2012 to their 10th grade responses back in 2010.
Wexler said parents should take full advantage of these results.
“I think some of the good news is creating more opportunities for parents to talk to their students, so parents have the right resources,” Wexler said. “I think in that sense we’re incredibly lucky to have a community take the survey seriously and that our (schools’) administration uses it as a call to action.”
Deerfield Police deputy chief Tom Keane said his department works with the community to help curb any drug or alcohol use amongst Deerfield teens.
“We have been very active in schools through years and do talks at the high school and parent meetings; constantly talking about the trends that are out there in the area,” Keane said.
Keane pointed out that this year’s DHS homecoming showed a drop in underage drinking and drug use.
“We’ve certainly had some underage parties,” Keane said. “But that has dwindled down. Homecoming was phenomenal this year; no cases of underage drinking. I think a lot of that is from education.”
Despite a decrease in documented underage drinkers, according to Keane, the IYS survey also showed that binge drinking was up by 27 percent, comparing the District 113 senior classes in 2012 to their responses as sophomores in 2010.
Wexler said, in that case, parents need to be more of a parent, and not a “friend.”
“There’s this mythology that before your kids go off to college, you need to let (them) experience alcohol,” Wexler said. “I know it’s something totally prevalent in this community, this fear of your kid going off to college without experience, but there are other ways to prepare your children for life that can be more about healthy choices.”
When it comes to marijuana use in the survey, the numbers are significantly lower compared to alcohol use. Thirty-three percent of 12th graders in the district said they used alcohol in the past 30 days, however, 78 percent said they had “easy” access to the drug.
“This is a very hard time for prevention specialists because there’s so much talk in the media about the legalization of marijuana,” Wexler said. “So they are getting mixed messages of (its safety). The issue isn’t about safety; it’s about legality.”
Keane said his department is seeing another dangerous drug trend among teens: the sharing of prescription drugs.
“Kids are sharing prescription drugs,” Keane said about the national trend. “We haven’t had any really cases (in Deerfield), but we certainly find people in possession of prescriptions they don’t have a script for. We try to share the dangers of that.”
Of the IYS results, District 113 superintendent George Fornero said in a statement, “With this improved knowledge of our schools, we can provide more precisely targeted and evidence-based solutions to improve the social, emotional, and intellectual engagement of all students.”
A presentation about the complete IYS Survey for District 113 students can be found on the district’s website, www.dist113.org. The Illinois Youth Survey is administered by the University of Illinois’ Center for Prevention Research and Development.