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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Joe Avalos, Chemical Dependency Program Manager for Thurston/Mason Counties, 360-867-2508

Healthy Youth Survey 2012 Results for Thurston County

Despite some progress in the latest Healthy Youth Survey results, public health officials remain worried about drug and alcohol use among our community's youth. The recent passage of liquor privatization and the legalization of recreational marijuana send the message that there is a reduced risk for harm from using alcohol and marijuana.

"Overall, the results of the 2012 HYS point to the health of Thurston County youth heading in the right direction in many areas, but there is still much work to be done," says Thurston County Board of Health Chair and County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela.

The good news is that a majority of our youth feel safe at school (86% of 10th graders). Other positive highlights include:
  • 94% of county 10th graders do not use prescription pain medication to get high.
  • 88% of county 10th graders do not smoke cigarettes.
  • 94% of county 10th graders do not bring weapons to school.

    Still, there are some results that give cause for concern:
    • Marijuana use has increased from 15% of county 10th graders in 2006 to 22% in 2012.
    • Though it is has declined from 30% in 2008, 26% of county 10th graders in 2012 are drinking alcohol.
    • One in three county 10th graders experienced symptoms of depression within the past year.

      "Youth alcohol use is still too high, and the increase in marijuana use over the last few years is alarming," states Valenzuela.

      As with many legal substances, there are health implications to consider. Yet according to the 2012 HYS, about half of county 10th graders see little or no harm in smoking marijuana occasionally.

      Research tells us that marijuana use is potentially damaging to the natural development of the brain, which continues to develop into our early twenties. Its use is also linked to a heightened potential for mental health problems, and some studies report a drop in IQ and short-term memory loss.

      "The entire community needs to work together to promote safe health choices in Thurston County," says Valenzuela.

      The Healthy Youth Survey is a collaborative effort of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, The Department of Commerce, the Liquor Control Board, the state Department of Health, and the Department of Social and Health Services' Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery.

      Every two years students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 answer questions about safety and violence, physical activity and diet, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use and related risk and protective factors. More than 200,000 youth took part in the survey in 2012, including thousands of students in Thurston County school districts.

      Thurston County Public Health and Social Services is committed to providing education and awareness of the potential for health consequences of both legal and illegal substances; to promoting informed health choices; to the prevention and treatment of drug and alcohol abuse; and to the promotion of mental health recovery and treatment.

      For more information about drug and alcohol treatment in Thurston County, please contact Diana Cockrell at cockrdd@co.thurston.wa.us, or 360-867-2511.

      For more information about youth mental health treatment in Thurston County, please contact the Thurston-Mason Regional Support Network at 360-867-2602.

      Healthy Youth Survey data can be found online at www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/admin/data/datapublications.html



County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3