Okay, I admit it: Drug use is not most cheerful of holiday topics, considering it's just two days before Christmas.
That said, many people deal with family issues during the holidays and to some, a study that shows illicit drug use is down among Iowa teens would be welcome news indeed.
Note: Illinois youth recorded slightly higher numbers, but that also would reflect that Illinois is a much more populous state, and includes a major American city.
Below is the full release, which cites the data in percentages:
DES MOINES – A new federal report ranks Iowa as having the nation’s second lowest overall rate of current illicit drug use, and the lowest rate of illicit drug use among middle and high school age youth.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) 2013-2014 state estimates report, released last week, the rate of past month illicit drug use among Iowans 12 years of age and older is 6.27 percent. That’s an improvement from 7.34 percent the year before, substantially below the national average of 9.77 percent, and trailing only South Dakota (5.82 percent).
In the 12-17 year old category, Iowa has the lowest rate of illicit drug use (6.31 percent vs. 7.86 percent the previous year and 9.11 percent nationally). Iowa also recorded the second lowest rate of past month marijuana use in the U.S. (5.02 percent among Iowans 12+ and 5.17 percent for 12-17 year-olds).
"The combined efforts of caring substance abuse prevention and treatment professionals, law enforcement officials, community coalitions, policy makers, families, friends and others all contribute to healthier and safer communities, and an overall better quality of life in Iowa," Steve Lukan said. He is Iowa’s Drug Policy Coordinator and Director of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy. "This report tells us the Iowa response is working relatively well in some important areas," he added.
"However, there’s much more important work to do to address challenges that involve new generations of young Iowans, ease of access to certain substances, and continuously emerging threats," Lukan said.
"Report rankings may change, but we must persevere with effective strategies to protect Iowans from the dangers associated with substance use disorders," he noted.
On the other hand ...
In less positive news, the national report ranks Iowa above the national average in: Youth tobacco use among 12-17 year olds: 7.42 percent U.S. vs. 9.41 percent in Iowa (and up from 9.33 percent the previous year); and binge drinking among 12-17 year-olds: 6.16 percent U.S. vs. 6.40 percent Iowa (but down from 7.25 percent the previous year).
"These findings are important as they provide hope and motivation that prevention, treatment, and recovery are possible for Iowans, while simultaneously showing that work must continue to improve and strengthen these resources," Patrick McGovern said. He is Suicide Prevention and Iowa Youth Survey Coordinator in the Iowa Department of Public Health. "Data like these inform our efforts and are used to identify areas of concern as well as growth opportunities."
The full NSDUH report on all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia can be viewed here.