Mont. sees rise in youth drug abuse rate
A new report says the rate of substance abuse among Montana youth is much higher than the national average. The state is using that information to target federal money to change attitudes about drinking and driving and binge drinking.
The Addictive and Mental Disorders Division of the Department of Public Health and Human Services will soon be awarding $9.86 million in federal grant money to agencies and community groups who have plans to "change societal norms," said Jackie Jandt.
The projects receiving the grants will look at laws and their enforcement, public perception, education and policies relating to drinking and driving and binge drinking.
"If we don't have that public perception that it's not OK to drink and drive," things won't change, Jandt said Wednesday. "We're going to teach them the skills to (make) changes within their community."
A survey of Montana high school students shows 38 percent admitted binge drinking within the past 30 days, above the national average of 28 percent. The rate among American Indians in Montana is higher, with 45 percent admitting binge drinking, which is defined as having five or more drinks on one occasion.
Montana students are more likely than their peers in other states to drive when drinking or ride in a car with someone who has been drinking, the report says, based on the Prevention Needs Assessment and the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance Survey.
The PNA is an anonymous school survey conducted with 8th-, 10th- and 12th-graders during even years. The Youth Risk survey includes school-based surveys of representative samples of 9th through 12th grade students and are conducted every two years.
Surveys show 37 percent of all students acknowledged having ridden in a car driven by someone who had been drinking within the past 30 days, compared to the national average of 30 percent. Among American Indians, 46 percent said they rode in a car driven by someone who had been drinking within the past month.
One-fifth of Montana high student students said they had driven a car while drinking within the past month, compared to the national average of 12 percent.
Jandt said the campaign against binge drinking and drinking and driving needs to be similar to the one that addressed heart disease as a top killer 30 years ago. She said it is now widely known that to help prevent heart disease people need to exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and not smoke.
Other survey results included in the 2007 Kids Count Data Book show nearly one-quarter of Montana high school students acknowledge using marijuana at least once within the past 30 days, equal to the national average, while use among American Indians is 37 percent.
Ten percent of Montana high school students and 17 percent of American Indian high school students say they've used methamphetamine at least once in their lifetime, compared to 8 percent nationally.
Forty-four percent of Montana students in grades 8-12 say they have smoked a cigarette at least once in their life while 22 percent say they've used smokeless tobacco. Among American Indians, 70 percent say they've smoked at least once while 35 percent say they've used smokeless tobacco.
Fourteen percent of Montana high school students say they've used smokeless tobacco within the past 30 days, compared to 7.6 percent nationwide.
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