Whether we look at national, statewide or local statistics, it may come as little surprise that substance use and abuse hold an increasing presence in our communities.
Just looking at the 2011 Pennsylvania Youth Survey for Centre County, we learn that:
• 34.6 percent of high school seniors report alcohol use in the last 30 days (an indication of regular use).
• 58.2 percent of high school seniors report their parent(s) disapprove of their use of alcohol.
• The average first use of alcohol by youth in Centre County is at age 13.
• 32.2 percent of students surveyed believe that regular use of alcohol is a “great risk” to them.
• Centre County had 778 DUI arrests in 2012.
• Centre County Drug and Alcohol is projecting 122 admissions to inpatient treatment and approximately 560 admissions to outpatient treatment for 2013.
At the County Drug and Alcohol Office, we see many trends in the individuals who seek treatment.
Alcohol consumption continues to be incredibly high for a county of this size. Heroin and opiate use will soon overtake alcohol as the drug of choice for individuals seeking inpatient treatment services.
Synthetic drugs continue to change in formula, keeping them available in our communities. Prescription-drug abuse is on the rise for individuals of all ages. Overdoses from drug and/or alcohol use are also becoming more common.
We want to protect our loved ones from the direct and indirect impacts of drugs and alcohol. But how does that happen?
It starts with a conversation. Parents need to talk to their kids. Students need to talk with their parents and teachers. Neighbors need to talk to each other.
We need to identify what is happening in our communities and determine the changes that need to take place. The “professionals” can tell you what we see, but we need to hear from you, the community.
What are you hearing and seeing? What are your concerns? How can we partner and share our resources to address this devastating challenge to our community?
On Thursday, the Centre County Partnership for Community Health will hold a brown bag lunch to discuss substance use and abuse issues in Centre County. This is a great opportunity to share your thoughts and concerns.
Together, we can influence change in our community.
Cathy Arbogast is assistant administrator for Centre County Drug & Alcohol Services.