The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Wisconsin students smoke less, but 11 percent report opioid use


March 31, 2018


Opioid abuse, a nationwide crisis, is reaching into Wisconsin’s high schools.

A total of 11.2 percent of the state’s high school students reported unauthorized use of prescription pain medicine, according to a 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The study found rates of sexual activity, smoking, alcohol and marijuana use were all in decline, however.

On the other hand, students are sleeping less, are on their communication devices more, and are more likely to feel sad or hopeless to the point of considering and planning suicide.

Nearly 50 percent of girls and 30 percent of boys reported anxiety.

A total of 11.6 percent of students are using e-cigarettes or other vapor products, whose long-term health effects are not known.

The biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey is anonymous and voluntary with 2,067 Wisconsin students in ninth through 12th grades taking the 2017 survey.

Results are from public high school students.

In a 6.4 percentage point drop from a 2013 survey, only 55.4 percent of students said they were in good or excellent health. Another 12.8 percent said they have a physical disability or long-term health issue.

Just over a quarter of students said they get eight or more hours of sleep per night.

The study showed 70.8 percent of students “feel they belong” and 71.6 percent said they have an adult to talk with.

A total of 6.3 percent feel unsafe at school and 24.2 percent believed they were being bullied.

Smoking rates for cigarettes were down 7.8 percent, from a high of 38.1 percent in 1999.

Marijuana use is on a declining trend at 16 percent of students. The high was 25.1 percent in 2001.

About one-quarter of high school students were sexually active, a drop of 8 percentage points over the last decade. Of those students, nearly 8 percent were not consistently using birth control.

More than 10 percent of students experienced dating violence of a sexual nature. The study said 5.2 percent of the students indicated they carry a weapon on school property.

Young women are at a higher risk of anxiety or suicidal thoughts than their male counterparts, the study revealed.

The survey is part of a national effort by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor health risk behaviors of high school students. The 99-item survey was administered in 43 Wisconsin public schools last spring.


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