Tuesday, September 22, 2015
By Emilie Ritter Saunders
Montana’s 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) has found that meth use among teens in the state has sharply declined since 2005, while teen meth use has stayed consistent since 2009. The voluntary survey of teens is conducted every two years by the Montana Office of Public Instruction, in cooperation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the 2015 YRBS, 3 percent of teens surveyed said they had used meth one or more times, that’s down from 8.3 percent in 2005.
“Although at times it seems like a relentless battle with never-ending obstacles, these numbers show that over the last five years the awareness and prevention efforts of organizations like the Montana Meth Project have had a significant impact,” Cascade County Attorney John Parker said.
The most recent HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Study found that the ability for individuals to produce meth efficiently and in large quantities in the region has been significantly degraded due to increased legislation and public awareness campaigns such as the Montana Meth Project.
“The ongoing and consistent anti-meth message that covers our state continues to educate and build confidence among teens that trying meth simply isn’t worth it,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau said. “The next generation of Montanans are fully aware of meth’s harmful effects. The Montana Meth Project’s ‘not even once’ message is working.”
The teen brain is a work in progress, making it more vulnerable than the mature brain to the physical effects of meth use. A Columbia University study found that the potential for developing substance abuse and dependence is substantially greater when an individual’s first exposure to meth occurs during adolescence. Combating meth use among Montana teens is the first step to decreasing meth addiction among Montana adults.
“Once an adult becomes addicted to meth it’s incredibly difficult to get through to their rational brain. If we can reach high-risk populations during their teen years with a strong and informative anti-meth message, they are less likely to become addicted in adulthood and we will start to see a generational change to meth addiction in Montana,” said Amy Rue, Executive Director of the Montana Meth Project.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is a biennial survey which measures health risk behaviors that result in mortality and morbidity. The Office of Public Instruction has been conducting YRBS with Montana schools since 1991.
The 2015 Montana Youth Risk Behavior Survey was conducted in February 2015 by the Montana Office of Public Instruction and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).