Bubbling back up

Survey indicates youths use alcohol more than other substances


Signs to look for

• Changes in friends

• Increased secrecy about possessions or activities

• New or increased mouthwash use to mask alcohol odor on the breath

• New or increased eye drop use to disguise bloodshot eyes

Source: The National Youth

Anti-Drug Media Campaign

What to do:

If you believe your child or another youth is using alcohol, call Grand Futures Prevention Coalition at 824-5752 or (970) 887-9655

— Slurred speech and abnormal behavior.

And the telltale odor.

"Definitely the odor," Moffat County High School assistant principal Travis Jensen said.

They're the signs that trigger Jensen's attention and give cause for reasonable suspicion that a student is under the influence of alcohol, he said.

As Jensen continues to watch for the signs, school records indicate alcohol use may be making a comeback after a brief decline.

Students' perceptions, however, differ.

Janna Thompson, MCHS sophomore, said she believes other substances have replaced alcohol in popularity.

"Last year was drinking," Thompson said. "This year, it's snuff."

This year, seven of 18 tobacco violations at the high school were linked to snuff, a finely ground tobacco designed to be inhaled through the nose.

Still, school disciplinary records show a slight increase in alcohol use this year compared to last year.

The school recorded five violations during the 2004-05 school year and four the following year. This year, the school has recorded three alcohol use violations - two more than the 2006-07 year.

Thompson and two other high school students - sophomores Kaylee Barnes and Jordan Wilson - said they haven't seen their peers bring alcohol to the school.

Yet, finding alcohol on school premises isn't unheard of.

Jensen confiscated a water bottle containing alcohol from school premises this year. The alcohol was mixed with soda, he said.

To date, the high school doesn't have a policy in place to check the containers students bring to class.

"All we have to go by is reasonable suspicion," Jensen said. "That's where we go back to the behavior : (that) gives us reasonable suspicion to give some kind of a search."

Survey results indicate that students are using alcohol more than other substances.

About 75 percent of MCHS students said they had used alcohol in their lifetime, the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey reported.

OMNI Research and Training, a Denver-based organization, conducted the survey during the 2005-06 school year.

The rates for alcohol use increased with students' grade levels, the report indicated.

More than 85 percent of high school seniors indicated they had used alcohol, while about 65 percent of freshmen said they had used the substance.

Across all grades, alcohol remained more heavily used than marijuana, cocaine, inhalants, methamphetamine, Ecstasy and prescription drugs.

Alcohol use in adolescents carries consequences physically and at school.

Habitual alcohol consumption carries the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease and some kinds of cancer, according to the American Heart Association.

At the high school, alcohol use carries the same consequences as drug abuse.

A first offense for possessing or using alcohol on high school grounds carries a three-day, out-of-school suspension and a referral to law enforcement. Second offenses carry a five-day suspension.

Still, adolescent alcohol abuse may be prevented.

Parents can help their children abstain from alcohol by encouraging them to join after-school activities and spending time with them often, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign Web site reported.


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