8th Graders in Indiana More Likely To Do Drugs
Eighth-graders in Marion County and throughout the state are more likely to smoke, drink and use marijuana than their counterparts in the rest of the nation, a new study finds. Drug-prevention experts here know the problem exists. But they don't know why.n The high rate of use may stem from scant dollars for prevention, more accessible drugs and the lack of a community network to address teen drug use, they say.
"I wish we had a better handle on some of the specific reasons," said Randy Miller, executive director of Drug Free Marion County. "It would make it easier for us to address and reduce it. That's part of the struggle." While marijuana use in this age group has increased across the country, the numbers are dramatically higher here. About 17 percent of Marion County eighth-graders used marijuana in the past month, compared with 8 percent nationally, according to a survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health.
The gap between local and national statistics narrows for high school seniors. That may reflect Indianapolis' high dropout rate rather than any real distinction in teens of that age because those who drop out are more likely to abuse substances, said Nancy Beals, prevention project coordinator for Drug Free Marion County. In an effort to turn the statistics around, Drug Free Marion County will apply for a federal grant to beef up prevention starting with sixth-graders, Miller said. If his group is awarded the $125,000 five-year grant, it would more than double what the group has to spend on prevention annually.
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