Synthetic Drug Use Among Students in the District

Earlier this year, the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and the District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) released results from the 2012 District of Columbia Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The report indicates that DC youth are showing signs of progress across several health-related behaviors including reductions in obesity and all forms of school violence. For the first time since 2007, the biennial YRBS evaluated a representative sample from both District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and Public Charter Schools (PCS), compiling data from over 20,000 District students in grades six through twelve.

The data highlights that 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 10 middle school students have used this synthetic drug, and the latest report describes the following three key highlights:

  1. The use of synthetic “marijuana” was significantly higher at each successive age group among both middle and high school students.
  2. Although the number of students who believe that people greatly risk harming themselves if they use synthetic marijuana was higher among higher grade levels, the percentage of students reporting synthetic “marijuana” use was also higher.
  3. Among youth who had used synthetic “marijuana”, there were significantly more students who reported getting Ds and Fs than students who got As, Bs, and Cs.

What do these key highlights mean?

  • In other words, 8th and 12th graders are most likely to use this drug than 6th or 9th
  • Drug prevention information is reaching the older students in both middle and high schools.
  • There are academic linkages for youth that have smoked synthetic drugs one or more times.

To read the full report, view the 2012 DC Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) Results.

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