Weather Forecast


Substance abuse survey measures attitudes

One quarter of Goodhue County sixth-graders believe they don't know enough about methamphetamines to form an opinion on the topic.

"That, to me, is a huge risk," said Julie Hatch, chemical health prevention specialist for Goodhue County. "They don't have the mindset to make a good decision."

The data comes from a survey conducted by the Goodhue County Chemical Health Initiative. The survey, conducted last fall, drew from 1,371 students in grades 6, 9 and 12 from schools across Goodhue County.

The survey addresses perceptions of risk, peer disapproval and parental disapproval. Past 30-day use was also recorded.

That sixth-graders showed significant doubts about their knowledge of meth and marijuana is "a mild concern," Red Wing Supt. Stan Slessor said. The hard part, he said, is providing age-appropriate learning materials for students.

Hatch said schools must find a way.

"We need to educate them a little earlier," she said.

Both Hatch and Slessor were struck by some possible links in the data. When perceptions of risk and disapproval are down, use is up.

That apparent link appears most evident in marijuana use among 12th-graders. Parental and peer disapproval slipped in that category between 2006 and 2008. Meanwhile, use increased nearly 10 percent; 22 percent of Goodhue County 12th-graders saying they had tried pot in the past 30 days.

"I think that is a correlation," Slessor said.

He said Red Wing schools will continue pressuring parents, coaches and other authority figures to increase their influence in students' choices.

The survey's findings also included:

• Sixteen percent of ninth-graders reported using alcohol - a 6 percent decrease from 2006.

• Among 12th-graders, 46 percent reported using alcohol, while 26 percent said they have used tobacco. Both results were nearly identical to 2006 data.

• The biggest spike in usage came in prescription drug and inhalant use. It increased in every sampled grade from 2006, though none higher than 12th-graders; usage there increased from 4.6 percent to 13.5 percent.