DefinitionPercentage of adolescents (grades 9-12) who responded 1 or more on the [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/chronic/pages/yrbs/yrbs.aspx Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)] to the question: "During your life how many times have you used heroin (also called smack, junk or China White)?" Responses of 0 are not considered as having a positive response for using heroin.
NumeratorWeighted number of adolescents (grades 9-12) who responded 1 or more on the YRBS to the question: "During your life how many times have you used heroin (also called smack, junk or China White)?" Responses of 0 are not considered as having a positive response for using heroin.
DenominatorWeighted number of adolescents (grades 9-12) with complete and valid responses on the YRBS to the question on ever using heroin in their lifetime, excluding those with missing, "Don't know/Not sure," or "Refused" responses.
Data Interpretation IssuesAlaska has conducted a statewide YRBS biennially since 1995 with the exception of 1997. Weighted data were not obtained in 2001 and 2005 and, therefore, no statewide estimates are available for those years. A YRBS conducted in 1999 did not include the Anchorage School District and, therefore, was not considered a valid statewide estimate. No YRBS was conducted in Alaska in 1997.
Traditional high schools are sometimes called comprehensive high schools. They are public high schools that are distinct from alternative high schools, which serve students at risk of not graduating, charter schools, correspondence schools, and students enrolled in high school in correctional facilities.
Responses are weighted to reflect youth attending public traditional high schools in Alaska.
The question on adolescent (grades 9-12) ever using heroin in their lifetime has been asked on the Alaska YRBS since 2003.
Why Is This Important?Heroin has become the popular drug of choice due to the increasing rate of opioid addiction in the U.S. and has become a major public health concern for adolescents.^1^ The prescription painkiller epidemic in the U.S. had caused the current use of heroin in those ages 12 and up to be higher than the rates from years 2002 to 2013.^2^
Prolonged heroin usage not only carries the risk of overdose but also has mental impacts that affect decision making and behavior.^3^ Physical health impacts of heroin use include infections of the heart, liver disease and lung complications. ^4^[[br]]
1. Kolodny A, Courtwright DT, Hwang CS, Kreiner P, et al. The prescription opioid and heroin crisis: a public health approach to an epidemic of addiction. Annual Review of Public Health 2015;36:559-574.
2. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Behavioral health trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. [http://www.samhsa.gov/
data/]. [http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf]. Published September 2015. Accessed October 7, 2016.
3. National Institute of Drug Abuse. What are the long-term effects of heroin use. [https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-long-term-effects-heroin-use]. Published June 2018. Accessed October 25, 2018.
4. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Drug facts: Heroin. [https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin#references]. Published June 2018. Accessed October 25, 2018.
Healthy People Objective: Reduce the proportion of adolescents reporting use of alcohol or any illicit drugs during the past 30 daysU.S. Target: 12.8 percent
How Are We Doing?In 2017, 2.2% of Alaska adolescents (high school students in grades 9-12) reported ever using heroin. Adolescent report of ever using heroin was higher in students reporting academic performance of not mostly As and Bs (4.7%) than those reporting an academic performance of mostly As and Bs (1.7%). Current cigarette smokers, smokeless tobacco users, binge drinkers and marijuana users were more likely to have ever used heroin than their peers.
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?For the 2017 YRBS, Alaska adolescents reported a similar prevalence of ever using heroin (2.2%) as the national average of 1.7%. Heroin had the lowest prevalence of lifetime use among the substances tracked on the YRBS for both Alaska and the U.S.
What Is Being Done?The State of Alaska Epidemiologic Profile on Substance Use, Abuse and Dependency is available at: [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dbh/Documents/Prevention/EPI2013.pdf]. This profile provides a more detailed report on the state of substance use and abuse in Alaska.
Evidence-based PracticesThere are multiple sources for research on interventions to prevent and reduce the use of illicit drugs in the adolescent population. Alaska is partnering with other states, the [https://www.cdc.gov/ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] and the [https://www.samhsa.gov/ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)] to develop a series of public health strategies gleaned from the evidence base.
SAMHSA maintains a website that collects the latest in substance abuse prevention evidence based practices. The link to the information can be found here: [https://www.samhsa.gov/prevention].