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About 30% of Flagler students have drunk alcohol in the past 30 days. COURTESY PHOTO
Palm Coast Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 8 years ago

Marijuana use rises at Flagler schools

by: Andrew OBrien Contributing Writer

Alcohol consumption and cigarette usage among Flagler County students is down, but according to a survey, marijuana usage has increased 8%.

Marijuana, weed, reefer, cannabis. Call it what you want, but according to a recent survey released by the state, the number of Flagler County high school students who are smoking marijuana is up 8% since 2004.

The survey, which was released in October, featured Flagler-specific numbers. The Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey measures drug use in middle school and high school students each year, and the most recent study surveyed 72,797 students statewide. The Flagler County School District’s sample size was 797 students, grades six through 12, and was taken from March to May 2010.

Katrina Townsend, director of student services for the school district, said the survey’s margin of error is 6% of middle school students and 7.2% for high school students.

While the overall consumption of alcohol decreased by 5.1% over the past two years, there seems to be a growing concern about the increase in marijuana use.

The survey asked students about their past 30-day usage of various substances, including alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes and prescription pills.

According to the survey, 12.3% of Flagler County middle school students and 33.8% of high school students surveyed reported using marijuana in their lifetimes. Also, 7% of county middle school students and 21.7% of county high school students reported using marijuana in the past 30 days.

In 2004, high school students’ past 30-day marijuana usage was at 13.7%, and jumped to 21.7% in 2010. However, all students reported past 30-day marijuana usage at 15.4%.

Townsend said students are becoming more aware of the acceptance of marijuana.

“Students today are using that same mentality with marijuana that we saw with alcohol years ago,” Townsend said.

Townsend said one of the difficulties the district faces is students see drug use on TV and seem to think it’s acceptable behavior.

Approximately 29.5% of Flagler County students, grades six through 12, reportedly have drunk alcohol within the past 30 days, according to the report.

After alcohol, marijuana (15.4%) and cigarettes (10.1%) were the most commonly used drugs in the 30 days previous to the survey.

The survey also showed that, in Flagler County, past 30-day alcohol use declined from 34.6% in 2008 to 29.5% in 2010. Binge drinking — or drinking with the intent to get drunk — also declined, going from 21.3% in 2006 to 14.6% in 2010. Cigarette usage decreased from 24% in 2002 to 13.7% in 2010.

In Flagler County, 10% of students reported the use of any illicit drug other than marijuana, compared to 9.3% across the statewide sample. Also, past 30-day use of prescription pain relievers among high school students fell from 6.7% in 2002 to 4.2% in 2010.

Inhalant use over the past 30 days among middle school students decreased from 13.8% in 2004 to 4.4% in 2010. That rate was still higher than any other illicit drug, except marijuana, among middle school students.

The study also found that in Flagler County, 23.6% of middle school students have been physically bullied, 44.2% have been socially bullied and 10.2% have been cyber bullied.

“In terms of bullying, it’s important for parents to talk with their child about not being a victim, but it’s also important to talk about not being a bully,” Townsend said.


This table represents the percentages of Flagler County students who have reported using drugs in the past 30 days.

Drug                                Middle School          High School
Alcohol                                 16.3%                         39.7%
Binge drinking                        6.9%                          20.6%
Cigarettes                              5.5%                          13.7%
Marijuana or hashish             7%                             21.7%
Inhalants                                4.4%                            1.9%
Cocaine or crack cocaine      0.8%                            0.8%
Heroin                                    0.2%                            0.3%
Prescription pain relievers     2%                               4.2%
Over-the-counter drugs         2.8%                            3.3%

Source: 2010 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey


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