Dickinson-Iron County Critical Health Indicators

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Teen Use of Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs

What Is It?

The use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs by adolescents impacts the health and socioeconomic well-being of the population. Adolescent use is measured by the Michigan Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and other research efforts. The YRBS is a joint project between the Michigan Department of Community Health and Michigan Department of Education.

How are Dickinson and Iron Counties doing?

The chart below highlights several areas of concern.  Statistics show that alcohol tobacco and other drug use begins early with our youth.  By the time they graduate, 50 percent reported being drunk once or more in the past 30 days; 46 percent smoked at least once in the past 30 days; 50 percent had tried marijuana at least once during the past year and 36 percent reported drinking and driving at least once in the past 12

* 30 days

** Grade 9-12

Sources:  Dickinson and Iron Counties results are based on the Search Institute in the 2000 DIHYC report of the results of the Profiles of Student Life Survey. These results are from 1997 and 1998 Search Institute surveying of over 90 percent of the 6-12 grades in Iron and Dickinson Counties (3,000 students). Michigan results are from the Michigan Alcohol and Other Drug School Survey, 1998-1999 school year.  The results are not based on a representative sample and may not be generalized to all 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students.  More results are available at www.wmich.edu/sociology/aod/html/results.html . National results are from monitoring the future 2000 survey.  Results of the survey are available from www.monitoringthefuture.org/ . The 2010 objectives for the nation are located at www.health.gov/healthypeople/Document/tableofcontents.htm  

How is the State of Michigan doing?

People who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at 21. The 1999 Michigan YRBS reports that:  82 percent of survey respondents had tried alcohol and 49 percent were current drinkers; 32 percent had their first full drink of alcohol before age 13; and 30 percent engaged in binge drinking.

Approximately 80 percent of adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18 and almost no one begins after the age of 25. The 1999 Michigan YRBS reports that:  72 percent of survey respondents had tried cigarette smoking and 38 percent smoked during the previous 30 days (current smoker); and 17 percent were regular smokers.

Despite improvements in recent years, illicit drug use is greater among high school students in the U.S. than in any other industrialized nation in the world. The 1997 Michigan YRBS reports that:  46 percent of survey respondents had tried marijuana and 26 percent were current users; 7 percent had tried cocaine and four percent were current users; and 20 percent had used some other illegal drug.

Source: Health Promotions and Publications, MDCH 1997 Michigan Youth Risk Behavior Survey

In addition, Michigan has adolescent rates for grades 9-12 measured by the Michigan Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) located at http://www.mdch.state.mi.us/dch/chi/PDF/2r.pdf

How do Dickinson and Iron Counties compare with Michigan and the U.S.?

Dickinson and Iron Counties' youth use alcohol and cigarettes at rates significantly higher than youth from Michigan and the U.S. as a whole.  High school seniors are considerably more likely to drink and drive.  More than half of all high school seniors in Dickinson and Iron Counties (60%) have smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days.

Rates for Marijuana are also higher than national and state averages. Rates of illegal drug use are also higher than state or national averages. Dickinson and Iron Counties use of smokeless tobacco is high. Inhalant use is significantly higher than state and national averages.

In 1997, the percent of adolescents who identified themselves as having used alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in Michigan was similar to the U.S. average.

Michigan ranks 38th for average annual deaths related to smoking (number 1 is the lowest death rate). The state also ranks 40th for tobacco control funding. To view Michigan smoking statistics, click here.

How are different populations affected?

Twelfth graders were more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs than younger students. In general, a higher percentage of white students were more likely than African-American students to use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Males were more likely than females to use alcohol and other drugs.

What other information is important to know?

Heavy drinking by youths has been linked to physical fights, the destruction of property, high-risk sexual behavior, other criminal activity, as well as poor academic and employment outcomes.

Tobacco is the primary cause of preventable deaths in Michigan, accounting for approximately one in five deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 70 percent of adolescent smokers wish they had never started smoking.

Drug abuse is related to increased injuries, early unintended pregnancies, academic problems, delinquency, and the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. Clinical studies have shown that marijuana can have a host of acute and short-term effects including impairment of skills related to attention, memory, and learning as well as complex motor skills such as those needed to drive a car. Studies also indicate that regular marijuana users may have many of the same respiratory problems as cigarette smokers.

A new report finds that young people are experimenting with drugs, alcohol and tobacco at early ages. The new report also finds that illicit drug and tobacco use increased dramatically among youth through the mid-1990's. But since then, these trends in use have shifted downward, although the new drug "ecstacy", is on the rise. For the report click here:


What is the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department doing to affect this indicator?

   The Dickinson-Iron District Health Department coordinates two community coalitions to reduce tobacco use. The coalitions meet quarterly with service providers and the public. In addition, all participants are asked to discuss their prevention activities in a program sharing format at meetings. This has resulted in an increase in the sharing of resources, financial support, staff time, and information as well as an opportunities to assist each other and collaborate on similar projects. Minutes and prevention activities are mailed to over 60 individuals who are part of the coalition.

The Coalition for Tobacco Prevention strives for a community wide approach to change social norms around tobacco use and to develop policies that minimize tobacco use. Efforts to change community norms involves bringing key stakeholders together through the coalition.

The Dickinson-Iron County Tobacco Free Community Coalition meets quarterly to discuss and plan prevention efforts. There are more than 60 members in the coalition, including a key voluntary health agency such as the American Cancer Society, school personel and City Managers/Mayors. Coalition meetings are designed for program sharing and coordination of tobacco prevention activities. Programs that have been successfully implemented by the coalition members include Smoke Scream, a sixth grade curriculum designed to increase their knowledge, Tobacco Blues, a class for students who are currently using tobacco and, and TATU, (Teens Against Tobacco Use) where older teens educate their peers.

Another successful DIDHD program "Peer Education" trains 30+ 9-12 graders annually to provide factual health information to their school peers. The two annual sessions held in each county are staffed by health department employees with the Tobacco Health Educator making a two hour presentation. Other segments of the 40 hour training reinforce these skills and provide other materials to assist with smoking cessation issues.

Community programs include the Great American Smokeout, World No Tobacco Day, Kick Butts Day, smokefree worksites initiative to increase the awareness of the dangers of secondhand smoke, Race Against Tobacco, and tobacco retailer education to reduce the sale of tobacco to minors. Prevention efforts will continue incorporating educational programs in the community as well as policies that restrict smoking in public, reduce access of tobacco to minors, and tobacco advertising.

Child Centered Coaching training sessions for youth coaches, referees/officials, and parents promotes tobacco free positive role modeling.

The Dickinson-Iron District Health Department through a grant from the Michigan Abstinence Partnership and in collaboration with the Dickinson and Iron Collaborative Boards sponsored the Healthy Communities and Healthy Youth Initiative of the Search Institute. The Health Department, with community support, developed the Dickinson-Iron Healthy Youth Coalition. The Coalition is dedicated to nurturing a healthy community through the promotion of positive youth assets. This framework provides for the measurement of the number of assets (building blocks for life) that a youth possesses both internally and externally in their environment. Research conducted across the nation and verified through our local student survey shows that possession of assets help youth to build strong healthy lives and helps them avoid life's risky behaviors. The number of developmental assets (family support, community involvement, communication with adults, self-esteem, etc.) a young person possesses directly impacts their risk-taking behavior such as use of smokeless tobacco and smoking tobacco products. The following chart shows that the number of assets a young person possesses directly increases the likelihood of avoiding risk-taking behavior such as tobacco use.

*26.2% of total youth surveyed smoked 1 or more cigarettes a day or frequently chewed tobacco

Source: Dickinson-Iron County Youth Asset Report

The relationship of other risk-taking behaviors to assets is relatively the same as the above graphing.
We know that the choices young people make about how to act, what to do and who to be are not made simply by chance. Their decisions are and will be influenced by our success or failure to build a framework for their healthy development. In the past two years over 800 youth and adults have been trained in asset building with thousands of others participating in a variety of youth asset development activities. The average number of assets possessed by our students is 17.6. Our communities are working to increase this figure to 22 by 2002.