Maryland Adolescent Survey Reveals Drug and Alcohol Use by School Students

  • St Mary's County
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Despite significant progress in lowering the use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana among adolescents over the last ten years, a comparison of 2004 data and 2002 data indicates a slight increase in the use of alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, and inhalants and 8th graders report a slight increase in the usage of inhalants, methamphetamines, LSD, crack, and other less-used but extremely dangerous substances.

Over the last ten years, data has indicated a 50 percent decline in the percentage of Maryland students using alcohol in the last 30 days, a 72 percent and 58 percent decline respectively in 8th and 10th grade smokers, and a 56 percent and 51 percent decline respectively in marijuana use among 6th and 8th graders.  

Alcohol continues to be the most widely used of all substances studied.  Most of the St. Mary’s County 12th graders surveyed in the biennial Maryland Adolescent Survey (75.5 percent) have tried some form of alcohol.  Experimentation appears to begin early in life.  By the time students are 6th graders, about one in eight (13.2 percent) say they drank beer, wine, or wine coolers “outside of religious ceremonies or sips from adult’s glasses.”  This is a slight increase from the 10.1 percent reported in 2002.  By the 8th grade, about one-third of the students (30.5 percent) report having tried some form of alcohol and by the 10th grade, six out of ten students (65.6 percent) report having these types of drinks at least once.  Alcohol use by 8th graders in the 30 days prior to completing the survey decreased by 2.8 percentage points since 2002.  Over the same period, 10th graders increased by 5.5 percentage points and 12th graders decreased by 0.7 percentage points respectively.
Of all substances studied, marijuana is the second most used substance by Maryland’s adolescents.  By 12th grade, 43.0 percent of the state sample reported having tried marijuana at some time.  Forty-three point five percent (43.5 percent) of St. Mary’s County 12th grade students surveyed reported they tried marijuana and 21.6 percent had used it in the 30 days prior to completing the survey.  This indicates a decline of 1.6 and zero percentage points respectively since 2002.  While little appears to be used before the 8th grade, 7.1 percent of the 8th graders surveyed say that they have tried marijuana at least once.  This indicates a 51 percent reduction in usage since 2002.

Cigarettes are the third most widely used substance by Maryland youth.  Survey data for St. Mary’s County shows that in the 12th grade sample, more than half (45.1 percent) of the students have experimented with cigarettes and one quarter (23.9 percent) had smoked during the 30 days prior to completing the survey.  This indicates a reduction of 6.3 percentage points and an increase of 1.1 percentage points respectively.  Smoking by 12th graders in the 30 days prior to completing the survey decreased by 4.3 percentage points since 2002.  Smoking by 8th graders in the 30 days prior to completing the survey decreased 0.3 percentage points.  Experimentation appears to begin between the 6th and 8th grades.  By the 8th grade, 18.4 percent report having tried cigarettes.  During the 30 days prior to completing the survey, 0.3 percent of 6th graders, 3.7 percent of 8th graders, and 4.3 percent of 10th graders reported having used inhalants.

The results of the survey show that substance abuse patterns among Maryland’s students reflect the cultural norms of American society, especially in regards to alcohol and tobacco.   Alcoholic beverages are often viewed as a culturally approved way of celebrating special occasions, as well as socializing with friends and

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