Every even-numbered year since 2000, the Missouri Departments of Mental Health (DMH) and Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) conducts the Missouri Student Survey to monitor substance use and related behaviors among adolescents. 47% (45) of the schools selected participated in the survey. Gender, grade (middle school, high school), race/ethnicity, and school size category (small, medium, large) were weighted to reflect statewide demographic. (Source: www.dmh.mo.gov). Below is a summary of the results. The complete survey and its results can be found at www.dmh.mo.gov. According to the survey, trends show an increase in the past month of alcohol, e-cigarettes, and marijuana use. 

The use of cigarettes, hookah, and prescription drugs have reduced since the 2016 survey. Inhalants were used at an earlier age than other drugs. An upward trend is seen in the age of first use for marijuana and cigarettes. For prescription drugs and inhalant use, the trend inclines towards a younger age. The students in this survey reported receiving prescription drugs primarily from their family while cigarettes, e-cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana were mainly obtained from friends. E-cigarettes were more commonly bought online (6.8% than the standard cigarettes (3.6%)). 

Further down in the survey, it states that almost half of the students found it “very easy” or “sort of easy” to get e-cigarettes, alcohol, and over-the-counter drugs. They also believed that marijuana is easier to obtain than prescription or synthetic drugs. The survey is lengthy, and so are the results. Some redundancy and other efforts appear to be in place to reduce inaccuracy, and the overall results can be narrowed down by county. I encourage everyone to check it out as it is a useful tool in attempting to get an idea of what is happening among our youth. IT should be noted that the survey does not limit its findings to just the substance; it also lists categories such as Peer Victimization, Physical Aggression and Experience with Weapons, Mental Health, and many more. 

Newton County Community Coalition Vision: A safe and healthy, drug and alcohol-free, youth community across all of Newton County.

Newton County Community Coalition Mission: We strive to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and other risky behaviors among youth through collaboration, education, empowerment, early-intervention, and community transformation efforts throughout Newton County. 

Are you interested in making a difference in Newton County? Come join the Newton County Community Coalition, where we are discussing how the Coalition provides substance abuse prevention strategies with current target areas of youth alcohol use, marijuana use, prescription drug abuse, and tobacco issues. 

To get in touch with someone at the Coalition, please contact me or one of our Board members at newtoncountycoalition@gmail.com. Board President: John Ball, Ball-john@kneo.org or Board Vice President: Jeff Higgins, jhigginsatc@gmail.com

Check out our Facebook page@ https://www.facebook.com/groups/489182691248202

The Coalition meets from noon-1 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month. The meeting location is the Talkington Building, 209 N. Valley Street, Neosho.

A Drug-Free Communities Coalition is supported by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 

---Phillip Whiteman is the DFC Coordinator/Program Director for the Newton County Community Coalition (Coalition). He writes a biweekly column for The Neosho Daily News.