Some numbers down on 2012 East Lyme substance abuse survey

East Lyme - About 27 percent of 12th-graders and 7 percent of seventh-graders in East Lyme have ridden in a car with a driver who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs within the past year.

That was one of several statistics from a 2012 survey on adolescent substance abuse that East Lyme Youth Services presented to the Board of Selectmen Wednesday evening.

The results represented responses from about 1,200 students in seventh through 12th grades who participated in an anonymous online survey through the Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) Coalition and the Southeastern Regional Action Council in the spring of 2012, said Sarah Butterfield, youth services program director.

The town last surveyed students in 2008. Since then, alcohol and marijuana use reported by high school seniors has decreased. However, marijuana use among 10th-graders has increased, and alcohol use also slightly increased in that group.

The study highlighted the trend that substance use can sometimes start around 10th grade.

"When kids are starting to get unsupervised, that's when it's really skyrocketing," Butterfield said.

For most substances, use in East Lyme is on par with or below regional and national averages, she said. However, East Lyme drug use is higher in certain areas. For example, 11.4 percent of 12th-graders in East Lyme reported ever having used cocaine, compared to 4.3 percent in the region.

The ASAP Coalition, which aims to address substance abuse issues, will next meet at 6 p.m. on Jan. 28 in Room B100 at the high school.

k.drelich@theday.com

Survey highlights

• 7.1 percent of seventh-graders and 64 percent of 12th-graders surveyed reported that they had tried alcohol in their lifetime. Recent alcohol use, within the past 30 days, was reported at 0.5 percent of seventh-graders and 35.5 percent of 12th-graders.
• 2.2 percent of seventh-graders and 32.1 percent of 12th-graders have tried smoking. No seventh-graders reported smoking within the past 30 days, but 19.6 percent of seniors had.
• For marijuana use, 0.5 percent of seventh-graders and 44.2 percent of 12th-graders reported ever having used the drug. In the past 30 days, 0.5 percent of seventh-graders and 21.7 percent of the seniors reported having used the drug.
• 6.6 percent of seventh-graders and 22.2 percent of 12th-graders reported they had misused prescription drugs. For the 30-day period, it was 2.2 percent of seventh-graders and 8.8 percent of 12th-graders.

Source: East Lyme Youth Services

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