County school drug and alcohol survey results released
The Burlington County Coalition for Healthy Communities recently announced the results of its annual survey to monitor alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drug use by Burlington County middle and high school students grades 6 through 12. The Coalition randomly sampled schools in districts throughout the county, and it uses the survey results to develop educational programs and to guide the future activities of the Coalition.
- Age of Onset: Students reported first using alcohol at 14.3 years of age, an increase from 13.8 percent in 2014.
- 30 Day Use: 45.5 percent of 12th grade students reported using alcohol in the past 30 days, a drop from 60 percent in 2014. Overall, 23.7 percent of high school and 17.1 percent of middle school students reported 30 day use.
- Students' Perception of Risk: 68.7 percent of all students reported that they feel there is a moderate or great risk of using alcohol, an increase from 63 percent in 2014.
- Perception of Disapproval by Parents: 93.2 percent of students believe that their parents disapprove of any alcohol use.
- Perception of Disapproval by Peers: 73.5 percent believe that their friends disapprove of alcohol use, an increase from 60 percent in 2014.
- Availability: Overall 39.5 percent of students reported alcohol as easy to get. 72.5 percent of high school seniors reported alcohol as being easy to get.
- Age of Onset: Students reported using marijuana at 14.2 years of age, a slight decrease from 14.5 percent in 2014.
- 30 Day Use: 12.7 percent of all students said that they had used in the past 30 days. The highest rate was 29.7 percent of 11th grade students.
- Perception of Risk: Overall, 59.1 percent feel there is a moderate or great risk of using marijuana, an increase from 46 percent in 2014. There is a large difference in perception of risk between middle school students and high school students: 75.1 percent of middle school students feel there is a risk, compared to 52.9 percent of high school students.
- Perception of Disapproval by Parents: 96.3 percent believe that their parents disapprove of marijuana use, up from 91 percent in 2014.
- Availability: 26.3 percent of students reported marijuana was fairly easy or very easy to get.
- Perception of Risk of using Prescription Drugs: 87.2 percent of students reported that it was wrong to use prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them.
- 30 Day Use: Only 1 percent of students reported abusing prescription drugs in the past 30 days, compared to 3 percent in 2014.
- Age of First Use: Students reported fist using tobacco at 13.4 years old, down from 14.1 years old in 2014.
- 30 Day Use by High School Students: Decreased from 8.2 percent to 1.7 percent.
- Perception of Risk: 81.7 percent of all students reported that there was a great risk of harm from tobacco use, compared to 83 percent in 2014.
Joseph Conlin, a retired Chief of Police who is the coordinator for the Coalition said that the results of the survey regarding Underage Drinking are “once again encouraging."
"Since we started administering the survey in 2008 the age of first use has been on a steady increase, up from a low of 10.8 years old to the current result of 14.3. Parents play a huge role in helping to keep their kids drug and alcohol free," he wrote in a statement.
Overall, there is still a large difference in the perception of risk of marijuana use. Middle school students seem to feel marijuana is as harmful as tobacco, but in high school only about half of the students reported that they thought marijuana was harmful.
The Coalition works to conduct student surveys in compliance with New Jersey state laws and does not name the schools who participated.
"The results of these surveys are helpful in guiding not only our coalition but also the local municipal alliances who use our data for funding to develop programs to reduce youth use of alcohol and drugs." Conlin said.