- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - An annual survey of alcohol and drug use by Indiana youths found they are continuing to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes less often.

About 30 percent of the state’s high school seniors admitted drinking alcohol at least once a month, which is down from more than 50 percent in 1993, according to Indiana University’s Indiana Prevention Resource Center.

The survey also found tobacco use by students in grades 6-12 has kept declining since the 1990s. The monthly smoking rate among Indiana students was 13 percent, lower than the national rate of nearly 16 percent.

The enforcement of laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco products and alcohol to minors has increased over that time and education efforts have contributed to a change in attitudes, said Carole Nowicke, a research associate for the center.

“The norms have changed; smoking is now thought of as a health risk,” she told The Herald Times (https://bit.ly/Y1bZjA ).

Researchers reviewed questionnaires collected last spring from about 119,000 students at 429 public and private schools around the state for the survey.

The center’s reports said the use of marijuana increased for high school seniors, but decreased for freshman students. About 37 percent of Indiana’s seniors said they had used marijuana before, compared with the 45.5 percent national average.

The survey found 13.5 percent of senior students had abused prescription drugs, compared with the 21.5 percent national average.

The surveys give researchers insight into a time when drug use by youths is habit-forming and prevention can be critical, because the 11 to 14 age range is a critical period for experimenting with tobacco, drugs and alcohol, Nowicke said.

“If you don’t start smoking then, you’re not going to pick it up when you’re 20,” she said.

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Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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