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Survey: Binge Drinking On The Rise At Blind Brook

RYE BROOK, N.Y. – Binge drinking and tobacco use are on the rise among high school seniors in the Blind Brook School District, according to results from a recent survey administered to students.

“There’s a lot of good news and there’s some bad news, so it’s a mixed picture,” said Ellen Morehouse, executive director for student assistant services, a Westchester-based substance abuse prevention agency that serves schools and communities.

The New York State Youth Development Survey was administered twice to Blind Brook students: once in 2008 to 571 students to serve as a baseline, and again in fall 2011 for 617 students – representing 89 percent of students.

Both surveys included almost all students in grades seven through 12. The results were discussed at the district’s most recent Board of Education meeting in a panel discussion.

Even though the results show that alcohol use among high school seniors decreased by 16.8 percent, compared to three years ago, about 75 percent of Blind Brook seniors who reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days said they binge drink.

“Many parents of seniors seem not to be concerned about monthly use thinking, ‘my son may have one beer within thirty days,’ but this shows three out of four kids who report having at least one drink in 30 days are having five or more drinks in a row when they’re drinking,” said Morehouse.

Morehouse said alcohol use among eighth-grade students has increased from 5.7 percent in 2008 to 10.5 percent in 2011, despite the national trend of declining use of alcohol among the age group, according to results of the Monitoring the Future Survey, a survey given to high school-aged students since 1975. It is administered to more than 46,000 students from 400 schools nationwide.

“All of the research shows that heavy drinking in high school is correlated with heavy drinking in college.  There’s a myth that the students who don’t drink in high school go to college and go wild, that’s absolutely not true, it’s the reverse,” said Morehouse.

For eighth-grade students, tobacco use and marijuana use have stayed stagnant at zero percent, even though marijuana use has increased among the age group on a national level, Morehouse said of the results.

Tenth-grade student alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use all decreased significantly more in the past three year than in reductions nationally, she said. Most significantly, marijuana use decreased 11.3 percent, despite the national trend, which showed a 27.5 percent increase in marijuana usage among 10 grade students, she said.

Tobacco use is up 274.2 percent for Blind Brook 12th grade students, Morehouse said.  It more than tripled among students in 2008, despite a national decline in usage among peers, she said.

Superintendent William Stark said the survey points out that Blind Brook is not an insular community and students are part of issues in a larger culture.

“Our impact as a school district is limited by the fact that children … students are a part of the rest of that world,” said Stark. “We’re all involved in a process of changing the world and this is not something that we can say by five years from now or 10 years from now, it’s going to be gone and that this is just not going to happen to a Blind Brook student.”

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