Survey: Heroin use down among Roanoke County high schoolers, alcohol use up for middle schoolers

Results released for student substance use

By Tommy Lopez - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. - Fewer Roanoke County students are using heroin but more middle schoolers are drinking alcohol, according to new survey results.

Roanoke County leaders recently released the results of the latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a national questionnaire they give to students once every two years.

Heroin
Under 4 percent of high school students said they’ve used heroin. That number has dropped 3 percentage points from four years ago.

High school students who report having used heroin at least once:
2018: 3.8%
2016: 5.8%
2014: 7.1%

Alcohol
One other trend stands out, for a different reason. There was a sharp rise in the number of middle school students drinking alcohol. The number of students who’ve at least tried it rose by 21 percentage points.

Middle school students who report drinking alcohol at least once:
2018: 37%
2016: 16%

Middle school students who report drinking alcohol in the last month:
2018: 10.9%
2016: 6.7%

Alcohol use stayed mostly level among high school students.

High school students who report drinking alcohol at least once:
2018: 57%
2016: 55%

High school students who report drinking alcohol in the last month:
2018: 30%
2016: 31%

Marijuana
Marijuana use among middle and high school students rose slightly.

Middle school students who report using marijuana at least once:
2018: 10%
2016: 7%

Middle school students who report using marijuana in the last month:
2018: 7%
2016: 4%

High school students who report using marijuana at least once:
2018: 34%
2016: 31%

High school students who report using marijuana in the last month:
2018: 19%
2016: 18%

Roanoke County Prevention Council Director Nancy Hans said Monday that leaders are looking at how they can address the issues and she’s pleased with where the county has made progress.

“The takeaway is we’ve really done a really good job and it is something that is not done solely by one group. It has to be done at a community level,” she said. “We continue to look at data and then we strategize on what can we do as a community to help people make healthy decisions, especially our youth.”

She said leaders are continuing to focus on preventing drug use, particularly opioid use. On Friday, the council learned it’ll receive a $50,000 federal grant over the next three years. Hans said the council will put it toward the education of 12- to 18-year-olds.

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