Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Study: Some Alcohol Use among Clay 9th-Graders on Rise

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Study: Some Alcohol Use among Clay 9th-Graders on Rise

Article excerpt

Despite ongoing programs to steer adolescents away from alcohol, drugs and tobacco, at least 20 percent of Clay County ninth-graders surveyed last spring said they smoked cigarettes or drank beer or wine coolers on a monthly basis.

And at least 9 percent of them said that on a daily or weekly basis they drank wine coolers, beer or liquor or smoked cigarettes or marijuana.

That's according to the results of a survey conducted by Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education Inc., a national drug-prevention organization. About 1,260 ninth-graders filled out questionnaires about their alcohol, drug and tobacco use, involvement in incidents of violence or threats, as well as their participation in civic, church and school activities and interaction with parents.

They were also surveyed in 1998 as seventh-graders and in 1999 as eighth-graders.

The results were distributed to the Clay County School Board last month, which received them for information but took no action.

The numbers showed increases in some instances of substance consumption. For instance, the 1999 survey showed that 14.7 percent of them said they drank beer on a monthly basis, but the 2000 survey had 21.7 percent of them drinking beer monthly. Also on the upswing was their use of wine coolers -- up from 15.9 percent to 21.3 percent.

But their cigarette consumption decreased slightly, from 20.6 percent to 20.3 percent.

PRIDE said that increased consumption of such products by minors shows "an easy availability . . . in the community."

"Access . . . often is an indicator of the community's part in the prevalence of adolescent . . . use. The more available the drug, the higher the risk factor of use," said the report. "Comparisons between the eighth-graders of 1999 and the ninth-graders of 2000 shows some discouraging data in the increase of availability of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana."

The Clay County Sheriff's Office reviews such survey results, but takes them with a grain of salt, said sheriff's spokeswoman Mary Justino. …

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