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Student Survey Results Discussed in Parent Forum

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On December 4, 2017 Clinton Public Schools, the Clinton Police Department, and Partners in Community presented on Substance Use Trends and Prevention at the Morgan School.

The results from the 2016 and 2017 student substance use surveys were discussed by Kelley Edwards, and overall the news is very good. Click here for a copy of the handout. Due to a concerted partnership between PiC, parents, youth, the school system, the Clinton PD, and many other community stakeholders, we are seeing shifts downward in alcohol, marijuana and tobacco use by teens. Use rates are the lowest they have been since 2005, when the surveys were first administered to 7-12 graders.

These declines in use are attributed to intentionally changing the perception of harm of use of substances, an increasing sense of peer disapproval of use, and also the disapproval of use by parents. The 2014 survey had indicated that the use of marijuana was rising, mostly due to the students’ perception that use was safe. The state of CT had legalized use of marijuana for medical purposes, and had “decriminalized” possession, which most teens errantly understood to mean “possession is legal”. In 2015-16 the definition of decriminalization was clarified and PiC and REACT focused campaigns on educating students and parents that use of marijuana before one’s brain is developed fully can be very harmful. By increasing students’ awareness of harm of use and by bolstering peer support for non-use, the prevention campaigns resulted in decreasing numbers of students using marijuana.

One substance that did not decline in use, however, was nicotine in Vapes or E-Cigarettes. Morgan students report 16-29% of each class have used a vape within the last 30 days. Most students who vape report using the Juul with nicotine-infused flavored liquids. Others state that tobacco and marijuana are also used in the vapes. The Clinton Police and Kelley Edwards showed attendees slides of what the Juul looks like, and how students are actually charging them on their chrome books during class. The perception of harm of use of these products is very low at Morgan, with some students believing that they are just vaping water. REACT will be conducting an educational campaign about vapes in early 2018.

Additionally in the presentation, the Clinton Police discussed the prevalence of opioid use in the community, as well as powdered cocaine. Clinton is not immune to the epidemic that our entire country is facing with misuse and addiction to pain medication and heroin. The Chief cited that Clinton lost three residents in 2016 to fatal overdose, and so far in 2017 two residents passed away due to overdose. More than 40 calls for overdose were responded to by the police and emergency services in town, with residents lives saved by administration of Narcan. The police officers also noted that powdered cocaine is making a comeback in the area, and the concern is escalated by it being “Cut” with chemicals like fentanyl, which can be instantly fatal to the user.

The police also showed parents in attendance photos of edible marijuana items which are popular and able to be ordered online. One of the dangers of using edibles is that the serving size is often a very small portion of the whole. For example, a marijuana brownie might have a serving size of only 1/6 of the whole. Not many people would read the label, and wind up quite ill from eating too much marijuana. Accidental ingestion of high levels of marijuana via edibles is an issue seen at many emergency rooms.

Another trend frequently seen by police, and verified by Morgan students, is the consumption of “Drank”, or “Purp” or “Lean”. This is a combination of cough syrup, sprite and a jolly rancher candy. Students use this combination because it makes the drink very sweet, yet the codeine in the cough syrup creates the high.

In the photo above, the K9 officer, Sonny, demonstrates how he can “hit” on hidden drugs.

If you would like a paper copy of the survey results please contact Kelley Edwards at kedwards@clintonct.org or by calling 860-664-1142.

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