By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE use of drugs and alcohol is continuing to rise among high school students.
More secondary school students are using alcohol and marijuana than they were in 2008, according to the recently released 2011 Secondary School Drug Prevalence Survey results.
The survey, conducted on 2,639 students from 44 private and public schools by the National Anti-Drug Secretariat of the Ministry of National Security, reveals that lifetime use of alcohol is at 70 per cent, an increase from the 68.2 per cent in 2008 and the 64.4 per cent in 2002.
“Fully one-half,” according to the report, “of all students had taken an alcoholic drink in the past year and a total of 29.9 per cent drank an alcoholic beverage within the past month; slightly up from the 22.6 per cent in 2002 and the 28.9 per cent in 2008.”
“Binge drinking, which was defined as drinking five or more drinks on any one occasion, was rather common.”
“A total of 46.8 per cent of the students who drank within the month prior to the survey had engaged in one or more sessions of binge drinking in the two weeks preceding the survey,” the report further noted.
Drinking took place most often at social events and at home for students who had drunk within a year of taking the survey.
“The primary source of alcohol for those students who admittedly drank within the year preceding the survey was; Friends – 25.4 per cent; Shop – 20.4 per cent; Other Relative -18.6 per cent; and Parents -12.5 per cent.”
Regarding marijuana usage, the report notes that 13.7 per cent of all students had tried marijuana at least once in their lifetime, with 9.7 per cent having used it within the past year and 5.0 per cent in the 30 days immediately prior to answering the survey.
“Usage rates in 2008 were 12.7 per cent lifetime, 7.2 per cent in the past year and 3.4 per cent in the past month,” the report said.
“Of those who did admit to smoking marijuana within the past year, 28.2 per cent did so only once; 32.7 per cent occasionally; and another 28.6 per cent on a weekly or more frequent basis.”
The report also notes that marijuana usage is predominant among male students and by the 12th grade, usage is four times higher than in the eighth grade.
The use of cigarettes decreased significantly for lifetime use when compared to the 2002 Survey, but was similar to the rate observed in 2008.
“Approximately 13.1 per cent of all students smoked a cigarette at least once during their lifetime; as compared to 19.8 per cent in 2002 and 12.9 per cent in 2008. Overall, only 5.1 per cent had smoked a cigarette in the year preceding the survey, up from the 3.5 per cent in 2008,” the report noted.
The report further notes that after alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes, the substance tried most often by the students was solvents and inhalants. Slightly over 10 per cent reportedly tried a solvent or inhalant at least once in their lives; an increase from the 5.4 per cent observed in 2008.
The abuse of prescription drugs, both tranquillizers and stimulants, including ecstasy, was not common among Bahamian secondary school students the report noted.
Approximately 4 of every 10 students (42.0 per cent) was exposed to drugs through the presence of friends who used an illicit substance and “15.5 per cent of all students reported that they had at least one parent who had problems related to drinking alcohol.”