Youth alcohol and drug use in Anne Arundel County

underageDrinkingA survey report of underage drug and alcohol use in Anne Arundel County shows that the rate for under aged drinking in the county is higher than the national average and that marijuana is the second most often used substance even higher than tobacco.

The Anne Arundel County Department of Health, along with local substance abuse prevention coalitions, recently completed the "Substance Use: Consumption and Perception Among Anne Arundel County Youth Ages 12-20" survey report. The suvery took place from October 2012 to May 2013.

The data measured self-reported use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and prescription drugs within the past 30 days and perceptions about the severity of the substances' risks and harm.

Underage drinking reported in all county ZIP codes

Underage drinking was reported by youth in all County ZIP codes, with ranges from 15 to 48 percent reporting use in the past month. The study showed that Anne Arundel County's average rate (27 percent) for underage drinking is 1.6 percent higher than the national average.

"Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among county youth," said Acting Anne Arundel County Health Officer Jinlene Chan, M.D., M.P.H. "Early onset of alcohol use is associated with a greater likelihood of developing alcohol abuse or dependence later in life. Early use can also cause damage to the brain, which is not fully developed until age 25."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, underage drinking is associated with other negative health consequences, such as motor vehicle crashes, interpersonal violence, sexually transmitted infections, unplanned pregnancy, suicide and unintentional injury.

The highest percentage of underage youth surveyed reporting alcohol use in the last 30 days were from Crofton (48 percent) the lowest percentage of youth surveyed reported using alcohol were from Jessup and Gambrils (15 percent).

Of the youth that reported they drank alcohol in the last 30 days, the highest response of where they got it, (43 percent) was "someone gave it to me." The second highest response was "I gave someone money to buy it for me" (31 percent). Youth reported purchasing alcohol directly from liquor stores (12 percent); restaurants, bars and clubs (7 percent); and public events (5 percent).

"There are many legal and health risks for both adults and youth when adults furnish alcohol to underage youth," said Department of Health Prevention Specialist Sandy Smolnicky. "Parents who do not communicate a zero tolerance message on underage drinking help to increase young people's alcohol use."

The survey indicated that marijuana is the second most often used substance, even higher than tobacco. Prescription drug abuse was reported by youth in 75 percent of the County's ZIP codes, with an Anne Arundel County average rate of 6 percent.

The survey was developed by county Department of Health, the County Partnership for Children, Youth and Families, in consultation with researchers from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Drug Free Communities Initiative. The Coalition for Safe Communities (CSC), Northern Lights Against Substance Abuse (NLASA) and Western Anne Arundel Substance Abuse Prevention (WASP), worked closely with the Department of Health to help administer the survey.

For details visit the Anne Arundel County Department of Health website.