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State of Alaska

Health Indicator Report of Drug Use - Marijuana - Adolescents (Grades 9-12)

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.^1^ Marijuana use alters perceptions and mood, disrupts learning and memory, and causes thinking and problem-solving difficulties. It can have a lasting impact on cognition^2^ and increase risk for certain psychoses.^3^ In Alaska, marijuana was the primary drug of abuse among about one-third of adolescents (12-17) entering treatment in 2013 and 2014.^4^[[br]] [[br]] ---- {{class .SmallerFont 1. What is the scope of marijuana use in the United States? National Institute on Drug Abuse website. [http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-scope-marijuana-use-in-united-states]. Accessed 7/16/15. 2. Lisdahl KM, Gilbart ER, Wright NE and Shollenbarger S. Dare to delay? The impacts of adolescent alcohol and marijuana use onset on cognition, brain structure, and function. Psychiatry, 01 July 2013; [http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00053]; [http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00053/full]. Accessed 7/15/15. 3. Wilkinson ST, Radhakrishnan R, D'Souza DC. Impact of Cannabis Use on the Development of Psychotic Disorders. Curr Addict Rep. 2014 Jun 1;1(2):115-128. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4352721/pdf/nihms586901.pdf]. Accessed 7/15/15. 4. Treatment Episodes Data Set, Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions by Primary Substance of Abuse. [http://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/webt/tedsweb/tab_year.choose_year_web_table?t_state=AK]. Accessed 7/16/15. }}

Notes

** = Data not available. The Alaska YRBS survey conducted in 2005 did not obtain a representative sample and thus no estimates were produced. Results for the national YRBS will not be available until June 2016.

Data Sources

  • [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Chronic/Pages/yrbs/yrbs.aspx Alaska Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System], Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Section of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
  • [https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/index.htm Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS)], Division of Adolescent and School Health, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC

Data Interpretation Issues

Alaska has conducted a statewide Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 1995 and biennially from 2003. Weighted data were not obtained in 2005 and therefore no statewide estimates are available for that year. A YRBS survey conducted in 1999 did not include the Anchorage School District and therefore was not considered a valid statewide estimate. No YRBS survey was conducted in Alaska in 1997 and 2001. 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. Questions on current and lifetime use of marijuana have been on the YRBS for Alaska since 1995.

Definition

Percentage of adolescents (students in grades 9-12 in traditional high schools) who other than "0 times" on the [http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/index.htm Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)] to the question: "During the past 30 days, how many times did you use marijuana?"

Numerator

Weighted number of adolescents (students in grades 9-12 in traditional high schools) with responses on the YRBS of to the question: "During the past 30 days, how many times did you use marijuana?"

Denominator

Weighted number of adolescents (students in grades 9-12 in traditional high schools) with a complete and valid response to this question on the YRBS.

Healthy People Objective: Reduce the proportion of adolescents reporting use of marijuana during the past 30days

U.S. Target: 6.0%

Other Objectives

Healthy People 2020 Objective SA-4.2: Increase the proportion of adolescents aged 12 to 17 perceiving great risk associated with substance abuse --Smoking marijuana once per month U.S. Target: 37.3%

How Are We Doing?

Current marijuana use among all Alaska adolescents was 19.0% in 2015, a decline from 28.7% in 1995. Alaska Native adolescents show consistently higher rates of current and lifetime use of marijuana than all Alaska adolescents. Only the prevalence of ever used alcohol exceeds marijuana use among the use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco asked of Alaska adolescents. Adolescent males (21.3% in 2015) are more likely to currently use marijuana than females (16.5% in 2015). Levels of current marijuana use do not appear to change appreciably after age 16 or the 10th grade. Academic performance is a strong predictor of current marijuana use with those receiving mostly As and Bs having a rate of 14.3% compared to those receiving lower grades with a significantly higher rate of 29.4%. Regions of Alaska with the highest current adolescent usage rates in 2015 were the Northwest region (35.7%), Other Interior region (33.2%), and Y-K Delta region (26.5%). Nearly two-thirds of Alaska adolescents (63.2% in 2015) see little harm in smoking marijuana once or twice a week, with Alaska Native adolescents perceiving lower (69.0%). Adolescents' perceptions of parental assessment of it being a little bit wrong or not wrong at all for them to smoke marijuana was 16.6% for all Alaska adolescents and 16.4% for Alaska Native adolescents. The view that there is a pretty good chance or a very good chance of being seen as cool if they smoked marijuana is only shared by 13.9% of Alaska adolescents and is slightly lower among Alaska Native adolescents at 11.2% in 2015. Local perceptions of the "coolness" of smoking marijuana are not matched by higher current marijuana use rates. Prevalence rates from the YRBS are initially presented for current marijuana use by all Alaska adolescents, Alaska Native adolescents, and the mean of the national YRBS. These data are followed by the rates for lifetime marijuana use for the same groups. As a basis for comparison, lifetime and current use of a variety of substances are presented. Subsequent analyses display current marijuana use by demographic subpopulations (i.e., sex, age, use before age 13, race/ethnicity, ethnicity, grade level, and academic achievement). Current marijuana use prevalence by regions of Alaska are presented for the most recent time period allowing reporting for all Alaska adolescents and Alaska Native adolescents: 1) 6 Alaska Economic Regions and the 10 assessment regions based upon aggregations of 20,000 population. The YRBS also asks questions whether students think smoking marijuana once or twice a week has slight risk or no risk of harm; whether their parents consider it a little bit wrong or not wrong at all for them to smoke marijuana; and students' thinking whether there is a pretty good chance or a very good chance of being seen as cool if they smoked marijuana. Each of these perception questions is followed by a regional breakdown using the 10 behavioral health systems assessment regions.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

After exceeding the national average for current marijuana use between 1995 and 2009, since 2011 Alaska adolescents exhibit lower rates of current marijuana use than the national average. In 2015, current marijuana use was 19.0% for all Alaska adolescents compared to 21.7% for the national average. Alaska Native adolescents show higher current and lifetime marijuana usage rates than the national average. Early initiation (before age 13) of marijuana use is higher among all Alaska adolescents (9.9%) and especially Alaska Native adolescents (17.7%) than the national average (7.5%) in 2015. The Healthy People 2020 objectives are measured using the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) which surveys adolescents aged 12 through 17, which is a different group than the high school students (grades 9-12) surveyed by the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).^5^ About 8 in 10 (80.9%) adolescents in Alaska in 2012-2013 perceived no great risk from smoking marijuana once a month - a percentage higher than the national percentage of 74.7%. The percentage of Alaska adolescents perceiving no great risk from marijuana use once a month increased from 2009 to 2013.^6^[[br]] [[br]] ---- {{class .SmallerFont 5. National Survey of Drug Use and Health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website. [http://www.samhsa.gov/data/population-data-nsduh]. Accessed 9/15/2015. 6. Behavioral Health Barometer Alaska 2014. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website. [http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/State_BHBarometers_2014_1/BHBarometer-AK.pdf]. Accessed 9/15/2015. }}

What Is Being Done?

The State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services created a workgroup bringing together partners from Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Department Public Safety to develop resources and public education around the health outcomes of marijuana use. The group uses Alaska-specific data to track the changes in prevalence and attitudes over time to evaluate the public health impact of marijuana legalization. For more information please visit [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Director/Pages/marijuana/default.aspx].

Evidence-based Practices

Research on interventions to prevent and reduce marijuana use has been complicated by the legal status of this substance. Due to the limited nature of the research, evidence-based strategies have yet to be established. Alaska is partnering with other states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop a series of public health strategies gleaned from the evidence base of tobacco and alcohol prevention programs.

Available Services

Services Available to the Public: For more information on the health effects of marijuana legalization in Alaska, please visit marijuana.dhss.alaska.gov. If you suspect someone has consumed too much marijuana call the Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. If symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to an emergency room. Treatment centers for marijuana addiction can be found at [https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/TreatmentLocator/faces/addressSearch.jspx?state=AK]
Page Content Updated On 05/11/2017, Published on 05/11/2017
The information provided above is from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services' Center for Health Data and Statistics, Alaska Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health (Ak-IBIS) web site (http://ibis.dhss.alaska.gov). The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sat, 22 September 2018 from Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Center for Health Data and Statistics, Alaska Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health web site: http://ibis.dhss.alaska.gov ".

Content updated: Thu, 11 May 2017 07:51:06 AKDT
The information provided above is from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services' Center for Health Data and Statistics AK-IBIS web site (http://ibis.dhss.alaska.gov/). The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sat, 22 September 2018 2:48:17 from Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Center for Health Data and Statistics, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: http://ibis.dhss.alaska.gov/ ".

Content updated: Thu, 11 May 2017 07:51:06 AKDT