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Tennessee Together Student Survey Highlights Opportunity for Parents to Prevent Youth Substance Use

 

Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse ServicesNashville, TN – Parents have a valuable opportunity to influence their children’s use of substances if they approach the conversation in early middle school grades, but these conversations are only happening for about half of Tennessee youth.  That is one of the primary takeaways highlighted by the first-ever TN Together Student Survey.

This data shows that Tennessee youth appear to misuse alcohol and marijuana at lower rates than national averages. Rates of misuse of prescription pain relievers are comparable to the national average and tobacco use is about two percent higher than the national average. Comparing state-specific statistics over time, Tennessee youth reported misusing alcohol, tobacco, and pain relievers at lower rates in 2016–2017 than in 2011–2012.

This data shows that Tennessee youth appear to misuse alcohol and marijuana at lower rates than national averages. Rates of misuse of prescription pain relievers are comparable to the national average and tobacco use is about two percent higher than the national average. Comparing state-specific statistics over time, Tennessee youth reported misusing alcohol, tobacco, and pain relievers at lower rates in 2016–2017 than in 2011–2012.

The Tennessee Together Student Survey asked students about their use of and related attitudes and behaviors surrounding prescription drugs, alcohol, marijuana, tobacco (including e-cigarettes), and other drugs. 

Approximately half of students surveyed said their parents had talked to them about tobacco and other drug use, but only about a third had discussed the dangers of prescription drug misuse.

Across all substances, the average age of first use was 13 to 14 years old.

“We know that parents play a huge role in reducing youth substance use.  The data from this survey shows that there are a lot of children making risky decisions without ever hearing from their parents,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW. “While the conversation isn’t easy for parents or kids, the results can be life-changing.”

The TN Together Student Survey was administered to 21,766 students in grades 8, 10, and 12 across 28 Tennessee counties.  The results were weighted to represent statewide populations in those grades. 

Measures also included perceived risk and perceived parental and peer approval of substance use.  While the majority of students responded that they regarded significant risk associated with smoking cigarettes or with misusing prescription drugs, fewer students perceived significant risk associated with using E-Cigarettes (JUUL and other devices). 

Additional Information and Links

2018-2019 Tennessee Together Student Survey Report

2018-2019 Tennessee Together Student Survey Onepagers

2018-2019 Tennessee Together Student Survey Compendium

2018-2019 Tennessee Together Student Survey Onepagers

Download (PDF, 658KB)


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