Community coalition survey seeks local perceptions of substance abuse
The Tecumseh Coalition for Youth (TCY) is a group of community members who have taken on the task of championing the fight against the areas of life that threaten the young people of the area physically or emotionally. One of the areas of primary concern is substance abuse.At a meeting of TCY, coalition members decided that evaluating the perceptions of the community regarding substance abuse would be a valuable tool in addressing the problem. The group prepared a survey that volunteers administered to random people who attended the Tecumseh Appleumpkin Festival Oct. 13-14 questioning respondents on their attitudes on a wide range of drug and alcohol related topics.The members of the group include representatives from government, law enforcement, school staff, service organizations, churches, students, business, and residents. The survey itself is in-depth and the preliminary summary is 11 pages of statistics. The breakdown of answers allowed responses in a range from “not a problem” through four more levels of concern culminating with “a significant problem.”Although all levels of concern to each question are statistically relevant, for the purposes of condensing the data for this report, the ensuing summary will note the percentage who responded that the topic was “a significant problem” was selected as most representative of the spirit of the survey. The survey, at this time, reflects the responses of 115 people, 72 percent of whom are students and 76 percent of those asked, so far, are between the ages of 12 and 18 years old.• The first part of the survey deals with perceptions of respondents regarding substance abuse by children as opposed to substance abuse by adults.Respondents who said substance abuse among children in the listed categories is “a significant problem”:Alcohol 19%, cocaine/crack 5%, heroin/opiates 8%, marijuana 40%, tobacco 25%, prescription medication 12%, synthetic drugs (K2, spice, bath salts) 11%Respondents who said substance abuse among adults in the listed categories is “a significant problem”:Alcohol 36%, cocaine/crack 7%, heroin/opiates 7%, over-the-counter medicines 8%, marijuana 19%, tobacco 39%, inhalants, poppers, rush, whippets (nitrous oxide) 5 %, and club drugs (GHB, ecstasy, etc.) 5%.• The second part of the survey deals with polling respondents about how much damage the substance does to the user, either physically or in other ways, if they:Drink one or two alcoholic beverages nearly every day – Great risk 23%Smoke one or more packs of cigarettes per day: Great risk 59%Smoke marijuana regularly: Great risk 37%• The third part of the survey questions the ethics of abuse:How wrong is it:For adults to drink alcoholic beverages regularly? Very wrong 19%For people under the age of 21 to drink alcoholic beverages regularly? Very wrong 57%For adults to smoke cigarettes? Very wrong 35%For children (under age 18) to smoke cigarettes? 70%For adults to smoke marijuana? Very wrong 44%For children (under age 18) to smoke marijuana 58%• In the past two weeks, how many times have you driven while intoxicated? Never 89%. Three to five times 2%.In the past two weeks, how many times have you been a passenger when the driver was intoxicated? Never 77%. Twice 9%.In the past month, have you consumed more than five drinks (men) or four drinks (women) in an evening? Never 74%. Twice 7%.In the past three months, have you missed work or school due to alcohol or drug use? No 95%. Yes 2%.Do you know someone who missed work or school in the past three months due to alcohol or drug use? Yes 61%. No 43%.As mentioned above, the sampling for the above survey is small, but from the data gathered so far the results closely parallel expectations: tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana continue to be perceived as the biggest threats to the health and welfare of both children and adults.