Students in the Bristol-Warren schools are among the biggest users of illegal drugs in Rhode Island, according to a special report released for all of the state’s communities on Monday, Dec. 9.
The data was compiled by the Department of Epidemiology in the Brown University School of Public Health for the Rhode Island State Epidemiology and Outcomes Workgroup headed by Brown Professor Stephen Buka.
The workgroup is a cross-state agency formed because there is no single state agency that is responsible for drug-use prevention, reporting and treatment, said Buka.
According to the results, Mt. Hope High School students rank:
- first in their illegal use of cocaine;
- first in their use of prescription drugs such as Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, codeine, and Adderall;
- first in being under the influence of drugs in school;
- first in the use of inhalants, also known as “huffing”;
- first in the use of marijuana in the past 30 days,
- first in other illegal drug use.
Kickemuit Middle School students rank:
- first in using prescription drugs,
- first in using inhalants,
- first in using other illegal drugs,
- first in being under the influence of alcohol in school.
High school students also rank second in their use of marijuana and second in their use of alcohol at school. They also rank fourth in what is called a “moderate” use of alcohol
Middle school students rank fourth in two other categories: smoking and alcohol use, and seventh in marijuana use.
“We expected it to be high,” said Ann Marie Roy, the substance abuse coordinator for Warren and the co-coordinator for Bristol. “But not this high.”
“I was shocked,” said Maria Ursini, the co-coordinator for Bristol with Roy. “We’ve known it’s been an issue. But this is crazy.”
The community needs to come together and work together on this problem, said Roy.
“A partnership has to to attack this,” Ursini. “It needs to be fixed. I hope this is a wake-up call. We can no longer say it's not us."
The substance-use data came from RIDE’s SurveyWorks! 2012-2013 and 2011-2012 results, said Buka. Students are asked to go on online to complete the surveys at least once a year. Parents have been able to opt-in or opt-out their children in years past, said Buka.
The students are asked straight-forward questions such as:
- Have you tried prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription?
- Have you tried marijuana?
- Have you tried inhalants?
- Have you tried cocaine?
- Have you been under the influence of drugs at school during the past 12 months?