While the substance-abuse rates of teens in Volusia and Flagler counties
are higher than the national and state averages, the number of teens that
are abusing drugs and alcohol in these areas is going down. The Florida
Use Substance Abuse Survey has been administered annually since 2000,
and in 2014, 65,917 students were surveyed from middle and high schools.
The survey gives teens a chance to talk honestly and anonymously about
their experiences relating to drug and alcohol use.
A couple of promising trends emerged from the recent survey. Dangerous
behaviors, such as binge drinking, driving under the influence, or riding
in a car where the driver is impaired, have gone down since 2012 among
local students. The use of drugs and alcohol has gone down as well.
These are encouraging statistics, for several reasons. According to the
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, INC (NCADD), 36% of
incarcerated persons were drinking at the time of the offence that landed
them in jail or prison. Alcohol was the factor in 40% of all violent crimes.
A report released by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse
(CASA) found that in 2006, alcohol or drugs were involved in 78% of violent
crimes and 83% of property crimes. Drug and alcohol addiction leads to
crime, so it is important to continue to educate our youth about the dangers
that come from substance abuse.
Drug and alcohol use among the local youth may be going down, but local
leaders realize there is still a problem. It is important to continue
to find new ways to dissuade teens from abusing drugs and alcohol, for
their safety and for ours.