By the numbers
Healthy Kids Colorado Survey results
Percentage of Moffat County High School students who indicated they had used the following substances during a 30-day period
• 2005-06: 55 percent
• 2007-08: 52 percent
• Difference: 3 percent decrease
• 2005-06: 17 percent
• 2007-08: 31 percent
• Difference: 14 percent increase
• 2005-06: 23 percent
• 2007-08: 28 percent
• Difference: 5 percent increase
• 2005-06: 17 percent
• 2007-08: 23 percent
• Difference: 6 percent increase
Source: 2007-08 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey
A survey taken by Moffat County High School students in the 2007-08 school year reveals that alcohol use among the student population had declined since 2005-06 while tobacco and marijuana use increased during the same period.
MCHS principal Thom Schnellinger said he thinks results of the 2007-08 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey reflect concerns within the local community as well as the behaviors of the student body.
"The issues we're talking about are indeed community issues," he said.
The survey results, which were prepared by Denver-based OMNI Research and Training, take stock of various adolescent behaviors and conditions, including substance abuse and mental health.
Survey results show that alcohol use among MCHS students within a 30-day period has dropped three percentage points - from 55 percent during 2005-06 school year to 52 percent last year.
Alcohol use among local students still is a concern, Schnellinger said, especially considering that 72 percent of students surveyed last year indicated that alcohol was an easy substance to obtain.
During the same time, chewing tobacco and marijuana use during the one-month period before the survey grew by 5 and 6 percentage points, respectively.
While those numbers may not appear to be dramatic increases, Schnellinger said they still are disquieting.
"These are faces of students I see in the halls every day," he said. "These numbers reflect real people.
"That's why we need to be concerned."
Other numbers related to the survey gave Schnellinger cause for concern, he said, including a 3-percent increase in students who said they have used methamphetamine at least once in their lifetimes. The percentage increased from 6 percent in 2005-06 to 9 percent in 2007-08.
Students who responded that they had used cigarettes in the previous 30 days jumped from 17 percent in 2005-06 to 31 percent in 2007-08, creating a 14-percent increase between the two surveys.
Schnellinger said the increase might be partially because of rising reports of snuff use among the high school's student body.
The survey findings listed only cigarettes and chewing tobacco in its 30-day substance use report. However, one of the questions in the tobacco use section of the survey asked students if they had used a variety of tobacco products, including snuff, during the previous 30 days.
MCHS administrators have seen a recent surge in snuff use among their students. In March, MCHS records showed that seven out of 18, or more than half, of tobacco-related incidents at the high school involved snuff, a smokeless and chewless tobacco.
In the coming school year, Schnellinger said he intends to add more staff and administration trainings to identify the signs of substance abuse among high school students.
However, Schnellinger said he also hopes to incorporate other means of addressing student substance use.
"I think we'd like to look at some rehab scenarios," he said.
Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or email@example.com.