Last modified: Thursday, October 2, 2003
Indiana adolescents say they are smoking less, using fewer drugs in 2003
A new report by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University Bloomington suggests that alcohol, tobacco and other drug use by Indiana adolescents continues to decline, with some exceptions.
Of particular interest to the Indiana state government are decreases in the reported rates of tobacco use among adolescents, an area of substance abuse heavily targeted in recent years by several Indiana state and local agencies.
"Seeing tobacco use rates fall below national rates for the first time is probably an indicator of the success of Indiana's statewide and local anti-tobacco as well as after-school prevention programs," said IPRC Deputy Director Mark A. Pogue, who directed the survey. "Aside from the inherent dangers of smoking, national data and our own state data show that smokers are far more likely to use other drugs. If we can reduce tobacco use and especially early experimentation, we are more likely to be able to control the use of other drugs by adolescents."
The data compiled in the IPRC report are extensive. In many instances, differences in the reported use of a given substance in 2002 and in 2003 were not statistically significant, indicating no change from 2002 to 2003, but Pogue said a number of important conclusions could be drawn from this year's surveys.
Fewer adolescent respondents said they used tobacco than those asked in 2002, following a general downward trend of tobacco use since 1996. There was one exception: more sixth graders said they were using tobacco products. The proportion of Indiana students who said they have used cigarettes at least once in their lifetimes fell below the national average for the first time ever. Fewer Indiana students said they were using other tobacco products, such as smokeless tobacco and cigars, than in 2002, though the percentage of users was still not below the national average. The IPRC data agree with a report issued last week by the Indiana Tobacco Prevention Center suggesting that smoking among Indiana's high school students has fallen dramatically from 32 percent in 2002 to 23 percent in 2003.
Dramatic decreases this year among Indiana students who said they use alcohol ended a gradual or inconsistent decline in alcohol use over recent years. However, there was a slight increase in the percentage of sixth grade respondents who said they use alcohol on a monthly or yearly basis. The proportion of Indiana students who said they drink daily did not change significantly from 2002 to 2003, making any future trend unclear with regard to students' regular use of alcohol.
The reported use of "club" drugs such as Ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) and Rohypnol seems to be in decline in general, though IPRC officials warn that since this is only the second year such data has been collected, a trend in either direction cannot be confidently established. For the most part, reported club drug use by Indiana students is below the national average.
The percentage of sixth graders who said they used inhalants, such as laughing gas, cleaning solvents and aerosols, has decreased since 2002, while the apparent percentage of eighth graders using inhalants has increased since 2002. Any year-to-year difference for other grades was unclear, though across all grades, the percentage of Indiana students who report inhalant use has been in decline since 1996.
Indiana students' reported use of marijuana, cocaine, crack, heroin, steroids and other illicit substances is generally unchanged since 2002, though students in some grades reported significantly decreased usage of certain drugs since 2002. Marijuana use, in particular, appears to have mostly decreased across all grades, following the trend in recent years. In no case was reported marijuana use significantly higher this year than in 2002.
"The big picture I am seeing from this data is that statewide collaboration and allocation of resources is being precisely targeted at young people at the time it is most critical," Pogue said. "Adolescents who are unsupervised are likely to be tempted, and the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction has worked hard to provide after-school opportunities to protect Hoosier youth."
This year's report used more than 140,000 surveys of students in grades six through 12 from 450 schools throughout Indiana. The number of usable surveys collected is nearly twice the number used in 2002. IPRC researchers increased the survey pool to ensure the inclusion of racial and ethnic minority students. Larger sample sizes also decrease sampling error and increase the statistical power of the overall survey results.
While the surveys do not represent a true random sampling of Indiana students, in which every student in the state would have an equal chance of being selected for the survey, Pogue said he believes the report presents a cross section of Indiana's youth population that reflects the rest of the state well.
The Indiana Prevention Resource Center is operated by the Department of Applied Health Science in Indiana University Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. IPRC is affiliated with the Indiana University Institute for Drug Abuse Prevention and is funded by a contract with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, using funds from the federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.
Raw data and a description of the survey protocol, including possible sources of error, are located at http://www.drugs.indiana.edu/drug_stats/youth2003/.
To speak with Mark Pogue, contact David Bricker at 812-856-9035 or firstname.lastname@example.org.