The 2017 RSS Youth Drug Survey was completed by over 300 students at Revelstoke Secondary School to gain insight into teen substance usage. (Nathan Kunz/Revelstoke Review)

Revelstoke youth drug survey sheds light on teen substance use

Results from the 2017 Revelstoke Secondary School Youth Drug Survey have been released, outlining the substance use of Revelstoke teens at the high school.

The survey, administered by the City of Revelstoke Social Development Committee, drew from a sample of 305 students at Revelstoke Secondary School between the ages of 12 and 19 on their experiences with alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other substances.

Social development coordinator Jill Zacharias says the committee began conducting the surveys in 2009 as a way to better understand how they can support youth and reduce potential damage from substance use.

“We started doing these drug surveys because we wanted to dig deeper,” Zacharias says. “In the world of substance use, it’s this continually changing landscape. Our whole goal is harm reduction.”

2017’s project was the third survey administered by the committee, following similarly structured drug surveys in 2009 and 2013.

According to the 2013 report, the goals of the survey are to better inform those who work with youth on the scope and patterns of use, work as a tool to increase awareness of use that may lead to a variety of harms, and measure the impact of preventative and supportive strategies over time.

2017’s results remained fairly consistent with the previous surveys, with slight changes in a variety of running categories.

Participants who have tried smoking cigarettes increased to 27.2 per cent in 2017 from 21.6 percent in 2013 after dropping substantially from 37.6 per cent in 2009.

Students who have consumed alcohol dropped slightly, for example, from 76.5 per cent in 2013 to 73.1 per cent in 2017.

Participants who have tried smoking cigarettes increased to 27.2 per cent in 2017 from 21.6 percent in 2013 after dropping substantially from 37.6 per cent in 2009.

Trends in marijuana use also increased, with students who reported trying marijuana rising just over 8 percentage points from 36.3 per cent in 2013 to 44.75 per cent in 2017.

Zacharias says the increase in marijuana use could be the result of conflicting information presented to teens on the harmfulness of cannabis.

“On the one hand, cannabis is virtually legal, that’s how they see it. And there’s a lot of adults now that have prescriptions for medical marijuana, so they’re saying ‘well it’s okay in that context so it’s okay for me,’” says Zacharias. “They’re confused because they’re getting really conflicting messages.”

“To me, it’s really up to us to provide the youths with really good, factual information. For example, there’s a lot of research out now on why cannabis is not good for the developing brain, and in particular the developing brain.”

New to this year’s survey was a category related to vaping, which found 54.7 per cent of participants have tried electronic cigarettes or similar devices, either with or without nicotine.

52.4 per cent of those who have vaped say they do so “once in a while,” while 11 per cent say they vape 1-5 times a day and another 11 per cent say they do over five times a day. The remaining 25.6 per cent say they only tried it once or “don’t vape anymore.”

Also new to this year’s survey was the inclusion of poppers, a mix of tobacco and marijuana smoked through a bong, which 50 participants reported to have tried.

Zacharias will be giving a full presentation on the results of the 2017 drug survey at the next Revelstoke Secondary School Parent Advisory Committee meeting Tuesday May 29 at 7 p.m. in the RSS library.

Revelstoke Secondary School Youth Drug Survey by Revelstoke Editor on Scribd


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