2012 Cabell County Teen Summit Focus Group Project. Summary Report

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1 2012 Cabell County Teen Summit Focus Group Project Summary Report Prepared by: April Fugett-Fuller, Ph.D. & Christopher LeGrow, Ph.D. Department of Psychology Marshall University

2 Key Findings 1. As in 2011, both Middle School and High School students saw teen substance use as a serious problem in the community. Underage drinking, tobacco use (cigarette and chewing tobacco), and marijuana use remain serious and established problems among teens. Use of prescription medications is being observed more frequently among teens and is soon likely to become a serious problem in the community. 2. Downtown Huntington, 9th Avenue, and the Spring Hill area (close to Cabell-Huntington Hospital) were identified as areas in the community where teens can get access to various substances. Teens also access alcohol at bars (4th Avenue) and stores in the community that don't check ID (or choose to overlook the purchase of alcohol by teens). Although teens identified these specific locations, the general consensus was that teens can access a range of substances throughout the local community. 3. Teens are also willing to travel outside of the local community to get access to substances. Milton and Charleston were identified as locations where teens travel to purchase drugs. 4. A new theme that emerged in 2012 was the identification of Marshall University as a major source of alcohol for underage teens. Students who have recently graduated from high school and who now attend Marshall University provide underage teens with access to parties where alcohol and drugs are available. Underage teens are also able to access "walk-in" parties where ID's are not checked around the Marshall University campus. 5. High school students at Huntington High identified marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol use as serious problems among teens (with marijuana being the most serious problem). Students reported a noticeable increase in alcohol use at Huntington High (especially among juniors/ sophomores). Students have observed an increase in parties and alcohol use at football games. 6. High school students at Cabell-Midland identified chewing tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol as serious problems among teens (with chewing tobacco being the most serious problem). The students also reported a noticeable increase in the use of prescription medications by Cabell- Midland students (specifically Zanax, ecstasy, and pain killers). 7. Both Middle School and High School students reported that teens have easy access to alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and prescription medications. Teens can get access to alcohol at home, at stores and bars in the community that don't check ID, and from college-age peers who provide access to college parties. Teens can get access to prescription medication at home by stealing medications prescribed for their parents, grandparents, and older family members as well as at school from teens willing to sell ADHD medication or pain medications. Teens can access tobacco at home from parents and older siblings as well from their peers. Teens can access marijuana at school from their peers, throughout the local community (as well as neighboring communities) from "dealers," and from stores that sell "synthetic" marijuana. Page 2

3 Key Findings (cont.) 8. Both Middle School and High School students felt that the community is not doing enough to address the issue of teen (and adult) substance use and has not yet made substance abuse a top priority. Individuals in the community are supportive of efforts to reduce substance use but not the community as a whole 9. Students felt that community leaders must give the local police department the resources it needs to have a greater "presence" in the community and to conduct undercover operations that would identify and eliminate the major sources of drugs in the community. The police also need to enforce harsher penalties and increase jail time for those using or selling drugs in the community. 10. Students felt that members of the community also need to take a more active role in trying to reduce teen (and adult) substance use. Community members need to be more willing to call the police when they see drug activity, organize neighborhood watches, and monitor the school bus stops in their neighborhoods to be sure they are drug-free. The community must also increase the number of activities that are available for teens (especially during the hours after school when many teens are unsupervised). 11. Students felt the schools need to do a better job in monitoring the schools (and school buses) for alcohol and drug-related activities. Schools should have teachers stationed in bathrooms in between classes and during lunch, reduce the amount of time between classes, conduct more frequent searches of student lockers and backpacks, increase the frequency of drug tests, install cameras on the school buses and at bus stops, and do a better job of ensuring students are not able to leave the school building. Most importantly, the schools need to enforce harsher penalties for students caught using or selling substances at school. 12. With respect to when schools should begin talking to teens about substance use, students indicated that this education should begin between the 3rd-5th grades. This would allow students to enter middle school with more awareness of the types of substances they may be exposed to (or offered) at school or in their neighborhoods. 13. A new theme that emerged in 2012 was the level of concern expressed by students about the growing problem of teen pregnancy in the community. Many teens saw a connection between teen substance use and the increase in teen pregnancy at their schools. Students recommended that educational programs targeted at reducing teen substance use should include materials that address the role of substance use in teen pregnancy. 14. Students felt parents need to be committed to not using substances in front of teens, more open and non-judgmental when they are approached by their teens to talk about substance use issues, more involved in their teens lives, more knowledgeable of who their teens are spending time with, strict and fair when disciplining their teens, and committed to having a safe and healthy home environment for their teens. Page 3

4 Key Findings (cont.) 15. Students felt that teens can best help prevent teen substance use by being role models for other teens through living a drug and alcohol-free lifestyle. Teens can also help prevent teen substance use by getting other teens involved in school and community activities, by being there for their peers when they need to talk about problems with substance use or problems in the lives, and by being willing to approach their peers about concerns they have with their peers' use of substances and the effects on their behavior. 16. Students reported that teens are drawn to substance use by peer pressure, social pressures to "look cool" or "fit in", personal problems (depression, pain, stress), growing up in a family where substance use is prevalent, teen rebelliousness, a lack of positive family/community role models, an educational environment that is "boring" and non-engaging for students, and a lack of activities for teens in the local community. 17. A new theme that emerged in 2012 was students felt that the messages they are hearing in the music they listen to and seeing in the movies, and television shows they are watching are contributing to the problem by promoting and glamorizing substance use. Television shows that are popular among teens have also made celebrities out of people who have engaged in risky, dangerous, and irresponsible behaviors. 18. Students reported that rather than listening to educational lectures, teens want to have the opportunity to talk with people who have had personal experience with substance abuse. They want to hear people talk about the effects of substances on their lives and what it took for them to overcome their addictions to substances. 19. Students in need of information about substance-related issues reported they would be most likely to trust school counselors, peers, the Internet (.gov or.edu sites), family members, and "real Health teachers" (not untrained teachers who are assigned to teach Health classes). Students reported they would be least likely to trust teachers, law enforcement, and parents if they were in need of information about substance-related issues. 20. Students were in support of additional Teen Summits as well as a Community-wide Summit on substance use. Students felt future summits should focus on prescription medication use, contain more interactive activities, and provide more information about the substances they are likely to see at school or in the community (appearance, street names, effects). Students who have had trouble with substance use or who are attending "alternative schools" should be invited to attend future Teen Summits. Students caught using or selling drugs at school should be required to attend the Teen Summit if they want to remain in school. At future Summits, focus groups should include a mixture of middle school and high school students students rather than separating the groups (older students can talk with the younger students about their experiences with teen substance use at their respective schools). Page 4

5 Cabell County Teen Summit Focus Group Project Response Summary Q1: Are tobacco use, underage drinking, marijuana use, and the use of prescription medication by teens serious issues in the community? G1 Yes. Tobacco use, underage drinking, marijuana use, and prescription medication abuse are all very serious issues in the community. G2 Yes. All of these issues (tobacco use, underage drinking, marijuana use, prescription meds) are serious issues in the community. Marijuana and underage drinking are the most serious issues. Students typically get these substances from their parents and drug dealers. G3 Yes. All of these issues (tobacco use, underage drinking, marijuana use, prescription meds) are serious issues in the community. When asked by a show of hands which was the most serious issue, all students raised their hands for tobacco, half for marijuana, half for alcohol, and half for prescription medications. G1 Yes. Marijuana use has become the most serious issue in the community. Underage drinking and tobacco use continue to be serious community problems. Tobacco use is extremely problematic in the high schools ("everyone smokes or chews"). The use of prescription medication is seen as an emerging problem. In addition to tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and prescription medications, teens in the community are now using inhalants (household cleaning products or Sharpies), and Dragonfly ("10x worse than speed"). G2 Yes. Marijuana and alcohol use are the two most serious issues in the community (the most serious issue being marijuana use). The use of prescription medications (cough medications such as Nyquil) and chewing tobacco are seen as emerging problems. G3. Yes. Marijuana and tobacco use are currently the two most serious community issues. The use of prescription medications and pills is becoming more common and will soon become a serious issue in the community. Page 5

6 Q2: Are these issues serious problems throughout the community or are they more problematic in specific areas or schools? G1 There are specific areas of Huntington where these substances are accessible to teens, but in general they are a problem throughout Huntington. One student specifically commented "any day he wants drugs he can get drugs" (and he knows where to get them). Tobacco is the easiest to access. Alcohol is easier for teens to get than drugs. Marijuana is almost as easy for teens to get as alcohol. Use of pain medication by teens is a growing issue and they are becoming easier for teens to access. G2 Drugs are easy to access in Milton but not Barboursville. Barboursville principal contacts parents/police when there is a drug-related issue with a student (this is seen as a positive). G3 There are specific areas where drug abuse is worse, but it is a county wide problem. It is easiest for teens to get pills, tobacco, pain killers and marijuana. Overall, marijuana was reported to be the most commonly used substance (followed by alcohol, pills, and tobacco). G1 Marijuana and tobacco use (cigarettes) are serious issues at Huntington High. The school bathrooms are the most common site for smoking marijuana and cigarettes. Teachers are aware of students smoking at school but often choose to ignore it (many teachers are also smokers). The use of chewing tobacco is a serious issue at Cabell-Midland. G2 While marijuana and alcohol are seen as the serious issues at Huntington High (the most serious issue being marijuana use), the substance use activity of Huntington High students was described as "a bit of everything"). A student smoking marijuana at Huntington High may get suspended but not expelled. Bathrooms at Huntington High are described as "on fire" and filled with cigarette and marijuana smoke. The use of chewing tobacco and marijuana are the serious issues at Cabell-Midland. G3 Marijuana and tobacco use (cigarettes) are serious issues at Huntington High. The smell of marijuana and cigarette smoke are common in school bathrooms. Students also find areas outside the school to smoke. Students perceived a recent increase in alcohol use at Huntington High (especially among sophomores/juniors). There have been more parties than normal, students have been bringing more alcohol to school, and there has been more drinking at school football games (Gatorade drinks spiked with alcohol). Cocaine use was also reported among Huntington High students. While the use of chewing tobacco is the most serious issue at Cabell-Midland, there has also been a noticeable increase in the use of prescription medications and pills by students. Specifically, students reported use of Zanax ("Xanax"), Ecstasy ("Mollys"), and prescription painkillers ("Bam Bams"). Page 6

7 Q3: Where do teens get access to these substances? Which of these substances is the most problematic (greatest concern)? G1 Family members are the most common source of alcohol and tobacco for teens. Underage drinking and tobacco use is common with family members. Some students felt that pain medications were the easiest substance to get because they are easy to steal from parents. Teens also indicated all you have to do to get pain medications legally was lie to doctors about having pain. Teens said a growing issue in the county is Meth (methamphetamines). Teens also reported seeing drug dealers at the school bus stops G2 Teens get the most pressure from their peers to use tobacco and marijuana. Teens don't see these substances as a concern or harmful to their health. G3 Teens get access to these substances from multiple sources including their older siblings, friends, parents, and older teens in their neighborhoods. Teens also get access to pills and pain medications by stealing from grandparents and elderly members of their families. The "neighborhood ice cream man" and E-bay were also cited as teen sources of substances. Alcohol was of the most concern to teens because of family members' experiences with alcoholism. Tobacco use was of the least concern because it is legal. G1 Older students and college-age peers are the most common sources of alcohol. Alcohol is also accessed through family members and stolen from their own homes. Strangers can also be found who are willing to purchase alcohol for teens. While downtown Huntington, the Spring Hill Area (near Cabell-Huntington Hospital), and school are the most common areas to purchase marijuana, the perception is that it can be purchased "anywhere" in the community. Cabell-Midland students often drive to Huntington to find marijuana. The primary source of prescription medications is the family medicine cabinet. Prescription drugs are also acquired at school from students willing to sell their ADHD medication or painkillers (prescribed for sports injuries or wisdom teeth surgery). Synthetic marijuana is available for purchase from stores in the community. Alcohol is perceived as the most dangerous substance (however, teens continue to use alcohol despite knowing the dangers). Marijuana is not perceived as dangerous because teens don't perceive it as being addictive and they are unable to see the effects marijuana is having on them and those around them. G2 There is easy access to all of these substances in the community. With Huntington being a college town, college parties are a source of alcohol for teens. There is also a "pressure" felt by high school students to go to college parties. Teens are able to access the college parties where ID's are not often checked. Alcohol is also accessible from stores who don't check ID's or who are willing to overlook the purchase of alcohol by teens. Page 7

8 Q3: Where do teens get access to these substances? Which of these substances is the most problematic (greatest concern)? (continued) G3. College parties provided teens with access to both alcohol and drugs. Students who have graduated from high school and are now freshman at Marshall provide current high school students with the access to the college parties. In fact, current high school students are encouraged by their college-age peers to increase their use of alcohol while in high school in order to "build up their tolerance for college." While fraternity and sorority parties are difficult to access, there are many "walk by" parties on campus that do not check ID's and are easy to access. Certain bars in the community (4th Avenue) are also accessible due to failure to check ID's. Teens have also become creative in getting around the ID check at local bars (for example, a 21 year old enters the bar and gets a mark on his/her hand at the door as a verification he/she is of age. Then he/she leaves the bar, takes a picture of the mark on his/her hand, and distributes the picture of the mark to underage teens who can then place the mark on their hands and gain access to the bar). The college is also a source of drugs for teens. However, given the easy access to drugs (especially marijuana) in the community, the college is not a common source of drugs for teens. The Spring Hill area of Huntington as well as 9th Avenue were noted as areas in the community where teens have easy access to drugs. Teens also report traveling out of the local community to Charleston to get access to a variety of drugs. Page 8

9 Q4: How would you describe the community s attitude towards the use of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and/or prescription medications by teens? Can community leaders help prevent teen substance abuse? If so, what can community leaders do to prevent these issues? G1 The community does not seem to be doing anything about the issue. The police do not even seem to have a presence out in the county. The community, police, and community leaders all downplay the seriousness of the issues associated with substance abuse. The community seems to have an "ignore it and it will go away" attitude. Individuals in the community are supportive of efforts to reduce substance use but not the community as a whole (community has this attitude because members of the community use these substances too). Teens felt substance use is such a big problem that it is hard to know where to start and it might be an issue that was too big to even solve. The community should begin to monitor bus stops, monitor drug store sales, and set-up community watches. G2. If the community wants to help with the situation, community members need to be willing to call the police more often. Teens also felt the community should reward (or "bribe") kids that are engaged in positive behavior ("bribing" teens to "do the right thing" was a central theme with this group - they felt that teens that are drug free should get free stuff, money, etc.). Teens indicated that more sports, clubs, and after-school activities would help with the issue of teen substance use. Also, teens felt that there needed to be a community Drug Summit as well as the Teen Summit. G3 The community does not take the problem of substance use seriously (although that varies by area in the community). The issue of substance use is usually only taken seriously by the community and community leaders when it "comes out in the open." To address the issue, the community can get better police officers (because the "one's we have don't seem to care"). There need to be more undercover police. The police are not serious about the issue, or they would keep people in jail longer. More people need to be punished because of the lack of consequences for those caught using or selling substances. They need to receive more jail time and community service. G1 Community leaders are not doing enough to address teen substance use. To keep substances out of the hands of teens, community leaders need to give the police department resources it needs to increase its awareness of the drug "hotspots" in the community. The police then need to frequently raid these areas until those selling the drugs are forced to leave the city. Community leaders also need to initiate more random drug testing programs throughout the community and require those who fail drug tests to attend educational classes. Random drug testing should also be required for welfare recipients to ensure they are not using the money to purchase drugs. Page 9

10 Q4: How would you describe the community s attitude towards the use of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and/or prescription medications by teens? Can community leaders help prevent teen substance abuse? If so, what can community leaders do to prevent these issues? (continued) G2 The issue of teen substance use is not a top priority for community leaders. Community leaders often "overlook the problem." Community leaders (judges, police, employers, school system) need to enforce harsher penalties for underage substance use (as well as substance use by adults) to deter teens. G3 Community leaders' efforts to reduce teen substance use have been "weak." Community leaders need to provide funding for activities for teens (water park, skate park, block parties) to show teens they can have "fun without drugs." Community leaders should also support and increase drug testing programs throughout the community. Page 10

11 Q5: Can the school system help prevent teen substance abuse? If so, what can the school systems do to prevent these issues? G1 Teens did not see any consequences for drug abuse at school. They felt the administration does not look for where these drugs come from or who is doing them. Teens also indicated that there were no consequences for being caught with drugs on school property. They felt that those that violated the rules were not punished severely enough. The teens even had the opinion that no one even calls the police when students are caught with drugs at school. ( Slap on the wrist and send you on your way"). Teens felt there needs to be more locker checks (especially when someone gets caught using drugs at school). Also, they indicated that there should be drug tests before sports. G2 Teens indicated that metal detectors, anti-drug signs, increased drug testing, and increased parental involvement at school would help with substance abuse issues at school. Teens indicated that more "at-risk kids" needed to be monitored while at school because of the peer pressure that causes kids (and especially these "at-risk kids") to start using substances. Teens get the most pressure at school to use tobacco and marijuana. Schools can encourage teens to get involved in sports and other school-related clubs to help keep them off drugs Drug sniffing dogs should be sent into the schools more frequently. G3 Schools do care about teen substance use, but they don t think students are using as often as they are. Teens report there are drugs and tobacco being used in the bathrooms at school. They see cigarettes and blunts. There are also drugs on the school busses. Bus stop drug dealers are an issue. The school need to put cameras on the bus because students hide drugs in holes in the seats and sell pot on the bus. One day suspensions from school for substance do not affect kids (the punishments need to be stricter). Suspensions need to be longer and students should be required to do community service for drug and alcohol violations. G1 The school system needs to have random drug testing for everyone at the school (students, teachers, administration, staff) and have harsher penalties for those failing drug tests. The schools need to patrol the hallways more frequently and more thoroughly. Drug deals are being observed in the schools and the "dealers" are known among students. Schools need to have teachers in the bathrooms and install more smoke detectors to deter teen marijuana and tobacco use. Schools also need to shorten the breaks between classes so students don't have time to get into trouble. Schools also need to do a better job keeping students inside the school (doors that are supposed to be locked are propped open to allow students to leave the school to smoke). The use of drug dogs to search students' lockers is not as effective as the schools think because students who are using drugs typically keep these substances on their person or in their book bags and backpacks rather than in their lockers. Page 11

12 Q5: Can the school system help prevent teen substance abuse? If so, what can the school systems do to prevent these issues? (continued) G1 The schools should begin talking with kids about substance use in the 5th grade so they are prepared for middle school (when they are likely to first encounter these substances). Teen education should also address teen pregnancy (a growing community problem). G2 The schools need to post a teacher in every bathroom between classes (and especially during lunch), monitor and lock doors to keep students inside the schools, and write-up students who are tardy or "lingering around the bathrooms" between classes. Education of students about substance use should begin early (3rd-5th Grades). The schools need to "scare them early" by showing students graphic examples of the effects of substance use (like the cigarette ads on television that show smokers who now need a "hole in their neck" in order to breath). G3 The schools need to conduct more frequent and "better informed" drug testing of students and teachers. Drug testing currently only increases after the school hears "rumors about student parties." The schools are currently "testing the wrong students" (focus of drug testing is on athletes and students who drive to school, rather than students who schools should know are involved with various substances). The schools need to require drug tests for everyone at the school. Schools also need to be aware that students are using various methods (pills; drinking water & vinegar) to in order to "detox" their bodies to pass random drug tests). The schools should begin talking with kids about substance use in the 4th grade (8-9 years of age). From an early age, the schools need to emphasize the benefits of not using substances and provide students with a variety of activities that can show them there are other ways to have fun. Page 12

13 Q6: Can parents help prevent teen substance abuse? If so, what can parents do to help prevent these issues? G1 To prevent teen substance use, there needs to be more parental involvement. Parents should be searching rooms and should not underestimate how many of their teens are actually using drugs. However, it's very hard for teens to talk to their parents due to the fear of getting in trouble. Parents seem to have a very one-sided view of the issue. They get mad and don t listen, and it seems like parents have selective hearing. Parents also do not trust their kids because of the friends they choose. Parents criticize instead of giving advice or listening. If a teen talks with his or her parents about drugs, then the parents automatically assume that the kids are abusing substances. G2 More parental involvement is needed to prevent teen substance abuse. But for most teens, it is difficult to talk with their parents about substance use. If teens start asking questions, parents assume they are already using these substances. G3 Parents care about teen substance use but they are not easy to talk with because they often overreact. Parents should start the conversation about substance use with their teens and be a good listener. Parents should take into consideration all of the details, wait, and listen until their child is done speaking. They should not judge their teens and should be careful of how they respond. G1 Parents are too lenient with their teens. Parents need to be less trusting of their teens and be more aware of what is going on in the lives of their teens. Parents also need to monitor and take the time to get to know the people their teens are spending time with. Parents should also set a good example for their teens by not using substances in front of them (or at all). Parents also need to make sure older siblings are having a positive influence on younger siblings by not engaging using or providing access to various substances. Parents should also work to establish a positive and safe home environment for teens and not assume that teen drug use is a "normal part of development" among teens. G2 Parents can help prevent teen substance use by not using substances themselves and by not allowing others (family, friends) to use substances in their homes. Parent and family use of substances encourages teen substance use. Parents need to have harsher penalties for teens who use substances. Teens today are "too babied" by parents. Most importantly, parents need to remain calm and not "freak out" when their teens want to talk with them about substance use issues. Teens are often reluctant to talk with their parents about substance use because parents are automatically going to assume their teens are using substances. Parents need to be more open to having "real conversations" with their teens about substance use. Page 13

14 Q6: Can parents help prevent teen substance abuse? If so, what can parents do to help prevent these issues? (continued) G3 The easiest way for parents to reduce teen substance use is to stop using substances in front of their teens. A lot of parents are even using substances with their teens. Most parents don't care about the issue of teen substance use until it's their own teens who are using. Many parents also approve of their teens drinking alcohol as long as their teens don't drive after drinking. Parents have to avoid being too strict with their teens as this will only encourage rebelliousness. Teens are "crafty" and can find a lot of ways to use substances without their parents knowledge. Parents need to allow their teens to make mistakes for themselves and hope they learn from these mistakes. If their teens continue to make mistakes, they need to step in and force their teens to get the help they may need. Parents also need to step in when they see older siblings having a negative influence on younger teens in the family. Page 14

15 Q7: Can other teens help prevent teen substance abuse? If so, what can other teens do to prevent these issues? G1 Teens can help prevent teen substance use by just being there to talk with their friends. For most teens, it is easier to open up to friends about substance use because teens think they can t trust their families as much as their friends (because friends "won t tell on you"). G2 When teens talk with other teens about substance use, their message needs to be more than "just don t do it. The message should be "you should be ashamed of yourself." G3 For most teens, the decision to talk with friends about substance use depends on the level of trust they have with their friends. It is difficult to find friends to trust. Teens have to figure out which friends they can talk to and trust. The best thing about friends is that they may be there for teens to talk to when their family is not. G1 Teens can be role models for other teens by living a drug and alcohol free life. They can also encourage other teens to get involved in school and community activities that will keep them out of trouble. Teens can also try to make other teens feel guilty about their substance use and its effects on the people around them (friends, family). Teens can also try to scare other teens by threatening to post videos of them using substances on Facebook or sending messages about their substance use to their families and friends via Twitter and text messages. Teens can also tell school authorities about substance use that is occurring at school (however, teens are often afraid to tell school authorities because they fear being bullied if other students find out they were the ones who told). G2 The only things teens can do is to set a good example for other teens and to encourage other teens to "not give in to peer pressure." Several students reported that they had tried to talk with their friends about their substance use. Their friends often got angry and did not want to hear what they had to say. Despite their best efforts, talking with their friends did not seem to help much. G3 Teens can try to talk with other teens about their substance use. Teens are usually more willing to talk with their peers than their parents about substance use issues. Although teens are willing to talk with peers, unfortunately they don't listen to the message and continue to use and ignore the negative effects of substance use on their lives. Page 15

16 Q8: What draws teens to drugs? (a) Peer pressure (teens indicated that they see what is going on around them and substance abuse is a "normal part of their world"). (b) Many teens use substances to "look cool" and to "fit in with other teens." (c) Teens get involved in substance use to deal with the problems in the lives. Specifically, teens use substances to relieve stress, "escape from reality," "feel less pain," and deal with depression. (d) Teens deal drugs for the money (and what money can provide for them) (e) Teens get involved in substance use because they grow up in families where the parents, siblings, and other members of the family use substances in front of them. (f) Teens feel it's acceptable to use substances because "other members of the community do it" and "it's a normal part of life." (g) Teens are influenced by what they see in the media and the behavior of famous people (celebrities, athletes). The music, movies, television shows, and social media that teens are exposed to contains a lot of messages that promote and glamorize substance use. (a) Peer pressure (teens need to hang out with other teens who are "good influences"). Having friends who use substances increases the risk that a teen will use substances as well. (b) Many teens lack positive role models in their families and in the community. (c) School needs to be more "fun" to make teens take their educations more seriously. Teachers need to have more "physical" and "interactive activities" for students (if schools increase activities, teen substance use will decrease). School is just too boring for most teens. (d) To look "cool" (e) Teens are not aware of the risks associated with using various substances. Many teens use marijuana because they don't think it's addictive. (f) Teens who are using substances are unable to see the negative effects the substances are having on their behavior and health (as well as on the lives of those around them including family and friends). Page 16

17 Q8: What draws teens to drugs? (continued) (g) There is nothing for teens in the community to do after school. This gives teens a lot of time (often unsupervised while their parents are still at work) to get in trouble. (h) The majority of the music that teens are listening to today promotes and glamorizes the use of substances (drugs, marijuana, alcohol). Parents need to do a better job of monitoring the types of music their teens are listening to and the types of message the music is sending to their teens about substance use. (i) Teen rebellion (against parents or authorities "who push the anti-drug message too hard") (j) A home life that exposes them to substance use at an early age (or that supports substance use by teens in the home). (k) Teens are exposed to a lot of television shows today that promote and glamorize the use of drugs, alcohol, and marijuana (Jersey Shore; Real World). Teens are also watching shows that glamorize the issue of teen pregnancy (16 and Pregnant; Teen Mom). These TV shows are teaching teens they can become famous just for having a kid. Parents need to do a better job of monitoring the TV shows their teens are watching and the types of message they are sending to their teens about substance use. (l) Teens "don't care" about the risks associated with substance use and are willing to take the risks because "you only live once." Page 17

18 Q9: What is the best way to talk to teens? (a) It is difficult for teens to talk with their parents about substance use because they do not understand what teens are going through ("they lived back in the 70's and could sleep with their doors open.) Parents hear what they want to (they don t listen - they talk). Parents grew up in a different time, but we know how to handle it - we re not oblivious. Parents need to realize there is a difference between advice and criticism - don't yell. (b) In most cases, it is not easy for teens to talk with their siblings about substance use, but there are exceptions. You can learn from siblings mistakes and they know what you are going through. Siblings trust each other but you need to be careful to not talk to younger siblings because they won t understand. Teens and community members should have the opportunity to meet with former addicts about their experiences with various drugs (they need to be shown both good and bad role models). (a) Teens want to learn from people who have had personal experiences with substance use. They don't want to listen to "boring educational lectures." Former "users" who have experienced both the highs and lows of substance use are who teens want to talk with. Teens want to hear personal accounts of physical and psychological effects substances can have on them and how people were able to overcome addiction. People who are "currently ill" (lung cancer) due to their substance use would have a greater effect on teens. If you "don't baby them," teens will respect the message more. (b) If educational programs are used, they need to contain more specific information about the various substances (effects; what they look like, "street names") so that teens know what they are being offered or exposed to. To appeal to teens, the speakers need to be funny, provide a lot of visual examples, and use PowerPoint during their presentations. Speakers "can't talk boring" and must be able to talk with teens who are from different backgrounds and neighborhoods within the community. (c) Most teens will prefer to talk with someone other than their parents about substance use (friends, older siblings, other family members). Most teens will also prefer to talk with someone who is younger (someone in their 20's) about substance use because they are more likely to understand the pressures faced by teens today. (d) At school, teens are more likely to talk with teachers/counselors they trust about substance use than anyone in a position of authority. Teachers and counselors will offer support and confidentiality, while authority figures will offer suspensions and other disciplinary actions. Schools need to present an anti-substance use message, but if they push the message too hard, it will "make students want to try these substance as an act of rebellion." Page 18

19 Q10: If you wanted accurate information about the use of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and prescription medication, who would you trust most? (a) Teens indicated that if they had questions about the use of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, or prescription medication they would be most likely to trust school counselors, friends, the Internet, and family members. (b) Teens indicated that parents, law enforcement, and teachers would be who they would trust the least if they had questions about the use of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, or prescription medication. (a) Health teachers in the schools are the most likely people to be able to offer teens accurate information about the effects of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and prescription medications. The health teachers need to be given the freedom to teach teens what they want to know and need to know, rather than what the state or school district wants teens to know. Teens also want "real Health teachers" and not teachers who are trained in other areas who are assigned to teach Health classes. (b) Teens who are using the Internet to find information about substance use, addiction, and/or recovery should search websites with URL addresses ending in.edu or.gov Page 19

20 Q11: What changes would you make to the format of the future Teen Summits? (a) At the Teen Summit, teens should be shown more pictures of the various substances so they are better able to identify different drugs. They should also be shown more pictures of the physical effects drugs can have on individuals who are substance users. (b) There should be more "interactive activities" (rather than listening to lectures) (c) Teens were interested in having a "contract to be drug-free" available for teens who attend the Teen Summit (it should also be taken back to their respective schools for other teens). (a) Teens who are currently attending "alternative schools" and have already had trouble with substance use and behavior should be invited to attend the future Teen Summits. (b) Teens attending future Teen Summits should be able to invite a friend who is struggling with substance issues to come with them. Although they may be resistant to attending the Teen Summit (and the Teen Summit's message) this could be the first step in helping these teens recognize they have a problem and begin to make a change in their lives. (c) Teens who have been caught using or distributing substances at school, should be required to attend future Teen Summits. (d) Focus groups at the Teen Summit should contain a mixture of Middle School and High School students. This would allow the older teens to educate the younger teens about the pressures they will face and the substances they may be exposed to when they enter High School. (e) Since most teens are familiar with alcohol and marijuana, future Teen Summits should focus on other drugs that teens are likely to be exposed to. Specifically, teens are very interested in learning about prescription medications teens are using (names, effects, addictive qualities, appearance) and that they are likely to be exposed to at school or among their peers. Page 20

21 Summary of Focus Group Characteristics Middle School Focus Groups There were three 45 minute focus group sessions conducted with middle school-age students from area middle schools. In the two larger focus group sessions (Groups 1 and 3), students spoke openly about their perceptions/experiences with substance use at their respective schools. The presence of teachers in the room did not influence the students' willingness to talk and provide their perspectives. In the smallest focus group session (Group 2), there was limited student participation (the majority of comments came from a small number of students within the group). At the 2011 Teen Summit, approximately 80 middle-school age students took part in the focus group sessions. At the 2012 Summit, 86 middle-school age students took part in focus group sessions. Group 1: Group 2: 9:15-9:45 36 Students 9:45-10:15 14 Students Group 3: 10:15-10:45 36 Students High School Focus Groups There were three 45 minute focus group sessions conducted with high school-age students from Cabell-Midland and Huntington High. Students from both schools spoke during the sessions and openly shared/compared experiences of teen substance use at their respective schools. At the 2011 Teen Summit, approximately 70 high school-age students took part in the focus group sessions. At the 2012 Summit, the focus groups were much smaller with only 37 high school-age students taking part in focus group sessions. Group 1: Group 2: 9:15-9:45 12 Students 9:45-10:15 12 Students Group 3: 10:15-10:45 13 Students Page 21

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