Drinking Down, Smoking Up Among FCPS Students

fcps logoAbout one-fifth of Fairfax County High School students report drinking alcohol in the last 30 days and nearly 10 percent report binge drinking more than five drinks at a time in the last two weeks — numbers that show a decline from previous years.

Those stats were among the findings of the 2013 Fairfax County Youth Survey, released by Fairfax County Public Schools this week.

The Youth Survey, organized in a cooperative effort every two years by Fairfax County and FCPS, polls eighth, 10th and 12th graders about their health habits, including substance abuse and sexual history. The questions were answered last school year by 32,439 students.

Among some of the report’s key findings:

Approximately two-fifths of Fairfax County students (41.1%) reported drinking alcohol at least once in their lifetime, with over three-fifths of twelfth-grade students (62.9%) having consumed alcohol at least one time. The percentage of students using alcohol in their lifetime has declined since 2011 by 4.4 percentage points.

Approximately one-fifth of the students reported using marijuana in their lifetime (21.0%), ranging from 5.3% of eighth-grade students to over one-third (38.3%) of twelfth-grade students.  The 2013 rate was higher than in 2010 (20.2%) and 2012 (20.5%), but lower than 2011 (22.0%).

A higher percentage of students reported having ever smoked cigarettes in 2013 compared to 2012 (17.5% vs. 16.6%, respectively). The 2013 rate ranged from 7.8% of eighth-grade students to 29.1% of twelfth-grade students.

Almost 1 in 10 Fairfax County students (9.1%) reported using painkillers without a doctor’s order in their lifetime, and a slightly smaller percentage (7.3%) reported using other prescription drugs without a doctor’s order in their lifetime.

Alcohol was the most frequently used substance in the past month. Nearly one-fifth of the  students (19.3%) reported consuming alcohol in the 30 days prior to the survey, with rates ranging from 5.0% of eighth-grade students to 36.2% of twelfth-grade students. Female students reported a higher rate of alcohol use in the past month (19.8% of female students vs. 18.8% of male students). The 2013 rate was the lowest prevalence of past month alcohol use since 2010.

One in 10 students (9.3%) reported binge drinking* in the past two weeks, with rates ranging from 1.8% of eighth-grade students to 18.9% of twelfth-grade students. The rate of binge drinking was lower in 2013 than in any of the previous three years.

Marijuana was the second most frequently used substance in the past month (11.3%), with rates ranging from 2.8% of eighth-grade students to 20.7% of twelfth-grade students. Male students reported a higher prevalence rate of past month marijuana use (13.3%) than female students (9.4%). The 2013 rate was higher than in 2010 (10.3%) and 2012 (11.0%), but lower than 2011 (11.8%).

One in twenty students (5.3%) reported smoking cigarettes in the past month, with 2.0% smoking at least one cigarette per day. A similar percentage (5.5%) reported using smokeless tobacco in the past month.

Rates of use among Fairfax County eighth-grade students were less than half the national rates for
past month alcohol use (5.0% vs. 10.2% U.S.), binge drinking (1.8% vs. 5.1% U.S.), lifetime marijuana use (5.3% vs. 16.5% U.S.), past month marijuana use (2.8% vs. 7.0% U.S.), and past month cigarette use (1.7% vs. 4.5% U.S.).

Approximately one-fifth of Fairfax County youth (19.3%) reported having had sexual intercourse in their lifetime, ranging from 4.4% of eighth-grade students to 38.1% of twelfth-grade students. Over one-fifth of male students reported having had sexual intercourse in their lifetime (21.2%) compared to 17.4% of female students.

Over two-thirds of the students who reported ever having sexual intercourse (67.8%) used a condom the last time they had sex, and nearly one-quarter (22.8%) drank alcohol or used drugs before their last intercourse.

To see the entire Youth Survey Report, visit Fairfax County’s website.


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