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Study looks at local teen drug use
Prescription drug abuse top concern for BC officials
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Results of the 2011 Georgia Student Health Survey recently were released and local officials are taking measures to evaluate the data and direct attention at target areas like alcohol, tobacco and drug use.
While the survey covers various topics such as school climate and safety, bullying, school drop outs, suicide, nutrition and more, Bryan County Drug Free Coalition program manager William Collins, said important areas of the survey include average age of first-time use and 30-day use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs.
Collins said an area of focus is prescription drug abuse. In Bryan County, prescription drug abuse has skyrocketed in recent years, he said, noting the average age of first-time use is almost as high as the average age for first-time use of alcohol.
“The federal government has not told us to (monitor prescription drug use), but prescription drug abuse is one of the fastest rising abuses in any field,” Collins said. “Those (numbers) are rising faster than alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. Prescription drug abuse is approaching that level of concern in Georgia.”
According to the study, the average age for the first time students at Bryan County High School tried prescription drugs not prescribed to them was 13.61. At Richmond Hill High School, the average age students first used prescription drugs was 13.3.
At Richmond Hill Middle School, the average age was 11.26, while at Bryan County Middle, the average age was 9.75.
“That’s elementary school (age),” said Wendy Sims, director of Bryan County Family Connection. “You hear ‘Bryan County doesn’t have a drug problem,’ but I think those surveys say different. Those are student-based and they don’t have any reason to lie because it’s anonymous.”
Collins said if people have ideas to help with prevention, he encourages them to participate in the Drug Free Coalition.
“I would want to encourage people to think about and look at the data, and if it looks off kilter to you, let us show you a trend and how we can work on it together,” he said. “The more people we have working on these issues, the more successful we are.”
The Bryan County Drug Free Coalition’s next meeting is at 10 a.m. Sept. 19 at the fire station on Highway 204.
To see the results of the survey, visit

Read more in the Sept. 8 edition of the News.

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