Every schoolchild goes home with a report of their grades for the classes in school. But who’s grading our kids on their involvement in alcohol and drug abuse? And if we got grades for their substance abuse, would our drug education efforts get an “A” or an “F”?
By examining reports and surveys on our children’s behavior, a report card of sorts can be compiled. From the report America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-being just published in July 2011, we find statistics on drinking and drug use among our eighth grade, tenth grade and twelfth grade students. (Heavy drinking is defined as five or more alcoholic beverages in a row or during a single occasion in the previous 2 weeks.)
Eighth grade: Seven percent of students engaged in heavy drinking in the previous two weeks.
Ten percent used an illicit drug in the previous 30 days.
Tenth grade: Sixteen percent engaged in heavy drinking.
Nineteen percent used an illicit drug in the previous 30 days.
Twelfth grade: Twenty-three percent engaged in heavy drinking.
Twenty-four percent used an illicit drug in the previous 30 days.
Some of these children who were old enough to drive also reported that they were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In 2009, a survey of 16 and 17-year-olds showed that 6.3 percent of them had done so. But in the Monitoring the Future Survey done in 2007, more than twelve percent of high school seniors reported that they have driven while under the influence of marijuana in the prior two weeks. This statistic was supported by a State of Maryland survey of adolescent drivers in which 11.1 percent of them said that they had driven after smoking marijuana three or more times.
Ironically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among young people aged 16 to 19 years.
“When you look at these statistics as percentages, the numbers might seem small,” observed Bobby Wiggins, spokesperson and drug education specialist for Narconon International. Narconon is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating substance abuse and addiction through effective drug rehabilitation and drug education. “You get the real impact if you view the numbers of our American children who are getting drunk, getting high or getting blasted on marijuana, cocaine, heroin or prescription drugs on a regular basis.”
Mr. Wiggins translated the percentages into the numbers of children. “We’ve got nearly 600,000 tenth graders drinking until they are drunk every two weeks, and 700,000 tenth graders smoking marijuana, using Ecstasy or LSD, or abusing OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax or another prescription drug.
“Among the seniors, a million are getting drunk regularly, and more than a million are abusing drugs. Now please notice that these numbers are just for two grades – if you added the numbers for all ages, we may have as many as five million of our best and brightest young citizens abusing drugs or alcohol. This is a failing report card for our drug education.”
Mr. Wiggins cited the Narconon drug prevention curriculum that has been shown to reduce actual drug use after the eight-part curriculum is delivered. “Believe it or not, many other drug ed programs judge their success by whether or not the students recall what was taught, not by whether or not drug use statistics drop after the classes,” he commented. “The only statistic that means anything, if you are presenting drug education classes, is whether or not more children refuse to indulge in drug use because they know the damage and the danger.”
Mr. Wiggins has been educating students on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse for more than 30 years. For more information on the Narconon drug education and prevention curriculum, contact a drug prevention specialist.