CENTER— During its regular meeting last Friday, Center Communities That Care (CTC) members received a briefing on marijuana use from the most recent Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, presented by a 2012 Center Graduate.
The survey is sponsored by Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE). CDPHE employee Diego Pons presented the survey results to the group and expressed his love for Center Schools and the Center community.
Pons said there are many misconceptions out there about marijuana use among youth and tested the group to see how many in the group believed some of them. He then used a slide presentation to better explain the current marijuana situation and present the survey results.
According to CDPHE literature, Healthy Kids Colorado is the state’s only comprehensive survey on the health and well-being of young people. In 2017 the survey sampled approximately 56,000 youth from 190 randomly selected middle and high schools statewide. The survey also looks at many other aspects of health and behavior, not just marijuana usage.
The 2018 survey shows the substances adolescents are most likely to abuse is still alcohol and tobacco. Fifty-nine percent experimented with alcohol, 44 percent smoked e-cigarettes, and 35 percent experimented with marijuana. Sixteen percent smoked cigarettes and 12 percent took prescription medications not prescribed for them.
Other substance uses were in the single digits. The survey claims youth marijuana usage remains relatively unchanged since legalization, but other surveys show marijuana usage among youth has increased since legalization.
The national average use for marijuana is 20 percent and Colorado usage is at 19 percent. The survey emphasizes that most of those using marijuana think 79 percent of their peers also use it, but this is not the case. Four out of five youths in Colorado do not use marijuana.
Among those who tried the drug, 39 percent bought it from someone else, 35 percent said someone under 21 gave it to them, 12 percent said a friend older than 21 gave it to them and 12 percent said a parent or adult family member gave it to them. In 2017, 52 percent of youth still believed marijuana was risky and those who thought it was risky were 76 percent less likely to use it.
Highest youth usage rates were recorded for those of multiracial backgrounds (27 percent), followed by Pacific Islanders at 23 percent, Hispanics at 22 percent and American Indians at 20 percent. Black usage was in the teens at 19 percent, whites at 18 percent and Asians at nine percent.
By gender, 32 percent of bisexuals have used marijuana, 28 percent of and gays and lesbians, and 18 percent of heterosexuals. Forty percent of transgender individuals have used the drug and 27 percent of those questioning their sexual identity report using it.
Among all youth using the drug, 78 percent smoke it, 10 percent eat it, eight percent dab it and four percent vape it.
Adults can help prevent marijuana use, the survey reports. Children of parents who teach them it is wrong to use marijuana are 72 percent less likely to use. Students whose teachers praise them for doing a good job are 28 percent less likely to use and youths who can depend on a trusted adult in their lives for help with problems are 30 percent less likely to use.
Pons emphasized that parents play a huge role in discouraging marijuana use and describes many strategies to help youths become more resistant to peer pressure and better at handling stress. Communities That Care have developed a variety of strategies to help prevent marijuana use.
To learn more, go to responsibilitygrowshere.com/talking-with-youth. To visit the Communities That Care site, go to https://communitiesthatcare.org.