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updated: 1/28/2013 10:47 AM

Youth Substance Abuse Remains an Issue in Lake County

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Lake County Health Department

Nearly 20,000 middle and high school students in Lake County participated in the 2012 Illinois Youth Survey (IYS) - a state wide survey with questions about drugs, nutrition and safety. The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has funded the administration of the Illinois Youth Survey (IYS) biennially since 1990. Lake County's survey included participation by 68 percent of the county's middle schools and 71 percent of the county's high schools. Following are some of the survey findings for Lake County:

• There was an increase in 10th grade alcohol use from 28 percent in 2010 to 30 percent in 2012; 12th grade alcohol use is holding steady at the high level of 49 percent.

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• In 2012, there was a decline in binge drinking for 8th and 10th grades; however, the 6th and 12th grade numbers remained the same. IYS defines binge drinking as having five or more alcoholic drinks in a row in the past two weeks.

• When comparing the past 30-day use rates from 2010 to 2012, 8th grade student use of alcohol declined from 16 percent to 14 percent and cigarette use dropped from 4 percent to 2 percent.

• 6th grade alcohol use is down from 7 percent to 5 percent, while cigarette use is continuing to stay at 1 percent.

• The 12th grade cigarette use rate dropped from 15 percent to 12 percent while 10th grade use of cigarettes remains the same at 7 percent.

• High school students reported a decrease in the past 30 day use of marijuana (10th grade -16 percent in 2010 to 15 percent in 2012; 12th grade -27 percent in 2010 to 25 percent in 2012).

"It is so important to have this data to monitor trends and evaluate progress in the area of substance abuse prevention. Our young people are our greatest asset and we want to help them grow to be successful and productive citizens," said Irene Pierce, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center. "Alcohol continues to remain the substance used most by youth."

There are several community coalitions and groups that have formed to address issues of alcohol and drug use in their communities. The largest is the Lake County Underage Drinking and Drug Prevention Task Force, a county-wide collaborative effort of local, county and state resources to address the problem of underage drinking.

"The Task Force's goal is to help all of Lake County understand the effects of drinking and drug use on young people. The science behind brain development proves that the areas of the brain responsible for judgment, impulse control and decision making are still developing until age 24. Drinking and using drugs before the brain is fully developed can have long-term effects on these critical areas and adults who provide alcohol or other drugs to minors or think that it is just a part of being a young adult, should take a harder look at the facts," states Bruce Johnson, CEO of Nicasa and Co-Chair of the Lake County Underage Drinking and Drug Prevention Task Force.

"We can all be part of the solution in reducing the number of children who drink alcohol, and the often tragic consequences, by keeping track of the alcohol in our homes in an effort to reduce youth access. Many teens report that it easy to get alcohol from their homes or the homes of friends without parents' knowledge," commented Co-Chair of the Lake County Underage Drinking and Drug Prevention Task Force and Mundelein Police Department Chief Raymond J. Rose. For resources on preventing underage drinking in your family or community visit: http://www.drugfreelakecounty.org/.

For more information about the Lake County Underage Drinking and Drug Prevention Task Force visit: www.lakecountyafterschoolcoalition.org and click on 'underage drinking.' For more information about the Illinois Youth Survey visit: http://iys.cprd.illinois.edu.

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