East Lyme Board of Selectmen heard a presentation last night from Sarah Butterfield of the town's Youth Services Department about student drug use. The survey, which is self-reported by students and was conducted last spring, is a mixed bag of good and bad news.
The full story, including statistics for Old Lyme and Lyme, was reported by Patch in October but in case you missed it, here are a few of the East Lyme study's highlights:
- The average age that students start experimenting with drugs and alcohol in East Lyme is 13. Some reported using for the first time at age 9. "We'd like to get it closer to 15," said Butterfield, explaining that the older students are when they start using drugs and alcohol, the less likely they are to become addicted.
- The top four substances students report using are, in order: alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes, and prescription drugs. Butterfield noted that marijuana took the second spot, which had previously been held by cigarettes, for the first time last year.
- Of the students who reported using alcohol over their lifetime, 7.71 percent of 7th graders said they had and 64 percent of 12th graders said they had. Additionally, .5 percent of 7th graders and 35 percent of 12th graders reported drinking alcohol within the past 30 days, which is a question designed to ascertain more habitual use.
- Compared to the last study, which was conducted four years ago, use of alcohol among 8th graders was higher in 2012, about the same for 10th grade, but lower in 12th grade. Students who drink alcohol, Butterfield said, are 13.5 percent more likely to smoke pot and students who smoke marijuana were considerably more likely to do other drugs.
- Just .5 percent of students in 7th grade said they had smoked marijuana in their lifetime. By 12th grade, that rose to 44.2 percent.
Where East Lyme Students Are Higher Than Average
Compared to student drug use in the region, East Lyme student drug use was lower in many areas. There were, however, a few notable exceptions to that. Butterfield said the areas of greatest concern were of student prescription drug use, Ectasy, and cocaine.
- Regionwide 0.4 percent of students in the region reported using tranquilizers compared to 2.9 percent of East Lyme students.
- The largest discrepency was with cocaine use. Just 0.7 percent of students in the region reported using cocaine, compared to 4.6 percent of students in East Lyme.
Butterfield hosts meetings on Adolescent Substance Abuse every fourth Monday of the month, either at 6 p.m. at East Lyme High School or at 1 p.m. at East Lyme Public Library. The next meeting is scheduled for East Lyme High School Room B105 at 6 p.m. on January 28. All are welcome to attend.