Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Heroin Use 3 Times State Rate

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Heroin Use 3 Times State Rate

Article excerpt

PATERSON -- Nearly 7 percent of students at John F. Kennedy High School said in a 2014 survey that they had used heroin in the 30 days before being asked the question -- a rate more than three times the national and state averages for heroin use among teens.

The Paterson Coalition Against Substance Abuse, or P-CASA, which conducted the survey among more than 700 teens who attended the high school, released preliminary findings of an upcoming study to the Paterson Press on Monday after some members read a news story about an increase in positive drug tests at Paterson schools.

School board member Errol Kerr called the survey's findings "terrible news." Nancy Grier, a community activist and member of the coalition, said he was dismayed by the survey's findings. "If we have high school kids doing heroin, that's a major problem," Grier said.

Robert J. Reid, a Montclair State University professor who is director of the coalition, said he hoped the report would "allow community members, policymakers, city staff and other youth-serving organizations to have the necessary information and tools to combat the drug and alcohol problem impacting Paterson's young people."

Reid said that nationwide, heroin use among teens is 2.2 percent, and in New Jersey the rate is 2 percent. The coalition's survey found the number at Kennedy to be 6.8 percent.

The coalition, which receives federal funding, surveyed 737 students at Kennedy in 2014 with questions about their use of illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco based on a survey used by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Reid said. The group received parental consent on behalf of all the young people who participated in the survey, the coalition said.

About 25 percent of the surveyed students -- or 184 - said they had used alcohol in the past 30 days, according to the P-CASA report. …

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