May 21, 2020
From Steuben County:
Substance abuse by teenagers in Steuben County shows an increased use of illegal drugs among students 8th and 10th grades and an alarming increase in alcohol abuse, highly caffeinated energy drinks and e-cigarettes, according to the recent survey by the Steuben Prevention Coalition. While seniors in high school reported less use of alcohol, marijuana and opioids, binge drinking for seniors – and sophomores – throughout the entire Steuben school system is higher than the national average. Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks in a 2- hour period for girls and five or more for boys. “The coalition is and always has advocated for the reduction of substance use among our youth in Steuben County, and it is our goal to allow them to grow up in drug free communities,” said Coalition Coordinator Colleen Banik. “During this current time of crisis, we are increasing our efforts and developing ‘new’ best practices to get the important messages out there that these substances are harmful to the development of our youth physically, mentally and emotionally.” The survey, completed by 8th, 10th and 12th graders in all school districts from October through November 2019 also shows alcohol, heroin and e-cigarettes use by students in all three grades is higher than the national average, while marijuana use by Steuben eighth graders ranks higher than the national average. The teenagers also believe their peers and parents disapprove of substance abuse, although seniors in high school indicated their friends are less likely to disapprove of marijuana use. The Coalition and its committees are currently working with several youth, youth groups and youth serving agencies to produce peer to peer video messaging to be used on their social media platforms as well as other, adult-oriented platforms. And the survey serves another purpose, she said. “We want our communities to be aware of the amount of youth who are reporting use of the substances,” she said. “We also need to celebrate our youth who are not abusing substances.