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Lynchburg sees a drop in substance abuse among high school students

‘It’s kind of changing the narrative and letting kids know that, no, not all of them are using’

An organization is partnering with Lynchburg City Schools to change the narrative of students and substance abuse.
An organization is partnering with Lynchburg City Schools to change the narrative of students and substance abuse.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – In a recent survey among tenth graders in Lynchburg, 96.8% reported they had not used drugs in the last 30 days.

“Our students are actually polling much lower when it comes to using substances [than previous years],” said Kali Miller of the Central Virginia Addiction and Recovery Resource Coalition.

The coalition, which includes Horizon Behavioral Health and Lynchburg City Schools, is launching the 96.8 campaign.

“Oftentimes students believe that all of their friends are using drugs, so it’s kind of changing the narrative and letting kids know that, no, not all of them are using. Actually, most of your peers are not using drugs right now,” said Miller.

Of the 3.2% of students who report using drugs, we’re told tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol top the list. A smaller percentage admits to using harder drugs like cocaine and heroin.

The survey also asked students how family and friends impact their decisions.

“[Students] know that their parents think [drugs are] bad for them. They know that their peers would not agree with those life decisions. So, those are some of the reasons that students reported not using drugs,” said Miller.

Horizon and LCS plan on surveying more students every two years to track their progress.

School leaders say along with a curriculum on drug prevention and events to promote awareness, like Red Ribbon Week, they vow to increase that percentage.

“Great, 96.8% of students; but what about the other students that we’re not capturing? We’re making sure that we’re focusing on all of our students as a whole and the community as a whole, that we’re providing services,” said Latonya Brown, director of student services for Lynchburg City Schools.

You can learn more here.


About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.