Risk survey good news

>Heroin use down among local students

MILFORD – News about drug use in New Hamp­shire continues to be bad, but there is some relative­ly good news for Milford in a survey done last year.

The percentage of Mil­ford students saying they have used heroin, mari­juana and unprescribed prescription drugs has gone down every year since 2009, according to a public health risk survey of schools in the Greater Nashua region.

Part of a nationwide survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Con­trol and Prevention, it asked students between grades nine and 12 a num­ber of questions pertain­ing to drug use.

Milford’s numbers have declined every year since 2009, when 4.8 percent of students said they have used heroin. Last year, 12 out of 816, or 1.5 percent said they have used heroin.

And in 2015, a lower percentage of Milford High School students said they have used heroin compared to their peers in the region and in New Hampshire.

The regional percent­age of teens who answered yes to the question "Have you ever used heroin?" was 2.5 percent. The state percentage was 2.4.

In Milford 12.4 percent, 101 out of 816, answered yes to the question of whether they were ever offered, sold or given drugs on school property, That compares to 16.7 in the area and 16.5 in New Hampshire.

And that Milford num­ber has declined over the years as well. In 2009, 127 Milford students said yes to the question of wheth­er they were ever offered, sold or given drugs on school property.

Many more, 13.9 per­cent, say they have taken prescription drugs with­out a doctor’s prescrip­tion, though that num­ber, too, has gone down steadily since 2009.

Marijuana numbers are not encouraging, how­ever. More than one out of five, 22.8 percent, an­swered yes to the ques­tion, "Are you currently using marijuana?"

And Milford students stayed almost even with their regional and state peers, at 15.5 percent, in the number who said they have gone to school high on pot.

In line with those mari­juana statistics are the answers to the question "Have you tried marijua­na before age 13?"

Milford’s percentage saying yes was 6.2 percent, compared to a regional percentage of 5.9 and a state percentage of 6.1

Tying into those num­bers are 60.6 percent of Milford teens who say it is easy or very easy to obtain marijuana, and 53.4 percent said they be­lieved there is a moder­ate or great risk in using marijuana.

In Milford, fewer stu­dents, 46.6 percent, talk about the dangers of substance misuse with their parents, compared to students in the region and state, whose numbers were 49.8 percent and 50 percent.

School Board Chair­man Paul Dargie said in an email this week that it is good news that the frequency of some risky behaviors has dropped a bit. The school district, he said, has provided addi­tional services to address the opioid crisis, includ­ing, at the high school, seminars for parents.

The district’s wellness committee, he said, "will be reviewing this report in the fall to see if there are actions or initiatives that should be taken to minimize the frequency of the risky behaviors."

The survey also report­ed responses to questions about other risky behav­ior, including use of alco­hol, cigarettes, seat belts and sexual behavior.

The survey results are on the Milford School Dis­trict website, at milford k12.org/wp-content / uploads/2016/05/2015- Youth-Risk-Behavior- Survey.pdf.