NewsLocal NewsHamilton CountyCincinnati


Survey: Teen alcohol, drug use keeps trending downward in Greater Cincinnati

Posted at 2:44 PM, Mar 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-23 07:21:53-04

CINCINNATI -- The majority of local teenagers are not using drugs and alcohol, according to the 2018 Student Drug-Use Survey, which PreventionFIRST! released this week.

Alcohol, cigarette and prescription drug use is trending downward and peer and parental disapproval levels of substance use are at record high levels, according to the survey.

RELATED: Teen pregnancy rate is down in Cincinnati

“We know how important friends and parents are in a young person’s life. Students who have peers and family members who express disapproval are more likely to make the healthy choice to not use drugs and alcohol,” said Mary Haag, president/CEO of PreventionFIRST!. “With this data we can increase partnerships and strengthen prevention plans in the Tri-State to further reduce and prevent young people from abusing substances and build prevention prepared communities.”

As measured by the past 30-day use indicator:

  • 97.6 percent of students report not using prescription drugs non-medically, 
  • 95.0 percent of students do not use cigarettes, 
  • 91.9 percent of students report not using marijuana, and
  • 86.3 percent of students do not use alcohol.

In her book "iGen," psychology professor Jean Twenge alleges that today's teens are more apathetic about everything because of increased screen time as compared to previous generations. Twenge's book says teens are less interested in drugs, hanging out with friends, working and learning to drive, to name just a few examples.

Haag said PreventionFIRST! is investigating whether screens could be a factor in declining rates, but she said it'll take time for them to determine that.

“It is a question we do ask, but that will be one of our analysis is what impact does screen time have on substance use. I can’t predict what that might be -- whether that makes them more likely to use or less likely to use. That I don’t know,” Haag said.

What they do know now is that there was a slight decrease in marijuana use from 2016. Students' perception of harm for marijuana stayed about the same from 2016. Other findings include that tobacco and prescription drugs are perceived more harmful to health than alcohol and marijuana, parental disapproval of adolescent substance use continues to improve and friend disapproval of peer substance use continues to improve. 

Non-medical prescription drugs had the highest parental disapproval rate at 95.6 percent; it was also the highest friend disapproval rate at 87.6 percent. 

PreventionFIRST! administers its Student Drug-Use Survey every two years. Just under 33,000 students in grades 7 to 12 from 80 schools took the survey in fall 2017. Alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, non-medical use of prescription drugs and electronic-vapor products are the most frequently abused substances by 7th-12th graders in the Greater Cincinnati area.

Find more details on the survey in the box below.