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SHS & SMS Students Report Substance Use in Biennial Study

At their regular meeting on December 7, members of the Sanford School Committee heard a report on some of the results of the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS) for 2019. This biennial survey of middle and high school students across the state is conducted in odd-numbered years. The report was presented to the Committee by Beth Letourneau, Director of School Counseling; Brent Coleman, Sanford Middle School Outreach Worker; and Nichole Ivey, Director of Sanford Community Adult Education.

While the MIYHS covers a wide range of health topics, from fruit consumption to sexual abuse, the focus of the report presented to the School Committee was primarily on substance use, with depression and bullying also touched on briefly.

Some of the findings of the study were:

  • 1 in 4 Sanford High School students reported using marijuana at least once in the previous 30 days. 21% reported alcohol use, and 8% reported tobacco use.
  • Almost 10% of SHS students reported using prescription drugs (not prescribed to them). This is nearly twice the statewide level.
  • The numbers for Sanford Middle School students were 5% for marijuana, 2% for prescription drugs, 4% for alcohol and 2% for tobacco.
  • Students who reported using social media sites daily were five times as likely to use tobacco, three times as likely to use alcohol, and twice as likely to use marijuana, compared to those not on social media.
  • 40% of SHS students report feeling sad or hopeless nearly every day for two weeks or more in a row. The statewide figure is 32%. In the 2017 study, the SHS number was 28%.
  • 24% of SHS students and 22% of SMS students have seriously thought about committing suicide.
  • 58% of SMS students and 34% of SHS students reported being bullied on school property within the previous year. These numbers are also significantly higher than in Maine as a whole.
  • Positive relationships with non-familial adults (including teachers, coaches and counselors) can significantly reduce the numbers for substance use, depression and suicidal thoughts.

A lengthy list of community-wide initiatives to help kids was also presented.

You can view the complete School Board meeting, including the MIYHS report, here.

This site has links to the statewide numbers broken down by age range, with all the questions that were asked.

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