Allen County teens are out-smoking the state of Indiana and the United States according to a new study. The Allen County Drug and Alcohol Consortium revealed that Eighth and tenth graders’ marijuana use is double the the state and country.
The consortium surveyed 12,000 Allen County 6th to 12th graders about their drug use in the last 30 days. On average, 8th graders reported using marijuana about once every 3 days with Allen County 8th graders reporting using the drug 12 times a month, Indiana six times, and national five times. Allen County tenth graders reported using the drugs about graders about once a day, with their rate being 24 times a day and Indiana and national both being 14.
Executive Director of the Consortium Jerri Learch said the biggest takeaway from the study is that they have to target their anti-marijuana messaging at younger children.
“When we look at this data we want to learn at what age did a youth begin to use marijuana and that tells us when we can start to target really young people and their parents to let them know it’s a real issue,” she said. “We have a lot of adults and parents who think their kids aren’t vulnerable until college or later. That’s not true. We’re seeing a lot more use with sixth grade and middle school students. We don’t want any young people to sacrifice their lives and their future prematurely. We begin those messages much earlier than we used to.”
Pediatrician Abigail Haselden of Pediatric Associates Inc. said the study results are extremely concerning because marijuana damages young minds. She explained that it negatively affects their mental development, which is suppose to continue even into their 20’s.
“It’s definitely alarming to us,” she said. “The adolescent brain is not fully developed and any hit they take of it, doing different kinds of drugs like that can affect their brain development and later on affect them overall lifelong. It affects them in school. It affects their ability to concentrate. It can also lead to other social issues and psychiatric illnesses and dysphorias as well.”
Fort Wayne Police Department Captain of Vice and Narcotics Kevin Hunter agrees. He said they’ve been active to combat the marijuana use.
“I think drugs are just very prevalent right now,” he said. “We also have some very hard working detectives that have some very good leads and we did more raids last year than we’ve ever done.”
They conducted 111 raids in 2017 and 67 in 2016. Their marijuana confiscation was also at an all time high in 2017 with 99 pounds of of the drug.
The study also surveyed the students about their alcohol and prescription drug use. For both categories, Allen County students out-used the state and country in every grade, 6th through 12th.