Survey: alcohol use down, pot up as school outpaces nation

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Survey: alcohol use down, pot up as school outpaces nation

CC0 Public Domain

CC0 Public Domain

CC0 Public Domain

Although Dulaney’s school-wide drinking rates appear to be declining, the overall rate remains high compared to the national average.

An anonymous survey of 256 students in English classes of all grades and levels shows that half of students drink recreationally. The figure is down from 60 percent last year.

“I’m proud that students are making better decisions,” principal Lyn Whitlock said of the trend. “It’s very encouraging.”

24 percent of freshmen said they drink recreationally, compared to triple the number of seniors.

At least one student expressed surprise. “I’d expect there to be more student-drinkers here, as sad as that sounds,” junior Emma Hardisky said. “You can’t really judge who drinks and who doesn’t by what classes they take.”

Effects of drinking at a young age can include alcohol addiction, poor academic performance, and increased drug use.”

In fact, this year’s survey shows 60 percent of Advanced Placement students admit to drinking recreationally.

Both years’ overall statistics are still significantly higher than the national drinking average. Of 12- to 17-year-olds nationwide, 30.8 percent admit to drinking, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Effects of drinking at a young age can include alcohol addiction, poor academic performance, encounters with the law (such as DUIs) and increased drug use.

The rate of the school’s marijuana use is more than double the national rate. Only 16 percent of the same national age group has used pot, compared to 33 percent of Dulaney students. School marijuana consumption increased slightly from last year’s 32 percent.

“They call us Druglaney for a reason,” freshman Matthew Schmuff said, echoing similar sentiments of students in the past.

About 14 percent of Dulaney students indicate that they have taken attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication without a prescription. The medication is often abused to stay awake, lose weight, or enhance athletic or academic performance, NIDA said.

When you’re high, you don’t want to hang around someone sober.”

— anonymous student

A University of Michigan study showed about 7 percent of students nationally who are not prescribed for ADHD medication use Adderall or Ritalin. One such anonymous junior said he takes Adderall when he’s bored or has a big test coming up and needs to concentrate to study.

“It helps my studying 110 percent,” he said. “It’s easy to get. I can get it from basically any friend who has ADHD and is willing to give it.” He has not seen any long term effects of using Adderall, which can include cardiovascular failure, paranoia and hostility, according to NIDA.

The Dulaney survey also shows school heroin use — while low — is five times the national average of 0.2 percent.

“Unfortunately, where we’re placed is right next to the heroin capital of the world, Baltimore,” an anonymous senior said. “A lot of kids feel pressured into doing it. When you’re high, you don’t want to hang around someone sober.”