Teen substance abuse high at Crested Butte Community School

High school cocaine use “alarming”

Being a resort town, it isn’t surprising that Crested Butte has seen more than its fair share of alcohol and drugs. A recent state survey however is indicating that abuse of drugs and alcohol by local high school students is on the rise.



According to the 2008 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS), binge drinking and cocaine use have increased considerably over the last three years in the Crested Butte Community School. HKCS is an annual, statewide survey that asks 6-12 grade students about their current attitudes and behaviors in various domains. At the time they were surveyed, 32% of 8-12 graders reported drinking alcohol in the last 30 days; 62% of 11th graders and 89% of 12th graders. Binge drinking (defined as having five or more drinks in one sitting) has also seen an increase at 32% for 8-12 grade students at 65% for 12th grade students. Not surprising, 57% of 7-12 grade students reported it would be “sort of easy” or “very easy” to obtain alcohol.
Most notable has been the increase in cocaine use among high school students. 39% of seniors surveyed in 2008 reported having used cocaine at least once in their life, compared to district-wide results that showed 20% of students reporting cocaine use in their life. Prescription drug use has risen to 72% of CB high school students reporting taking prescription drugs for recreational use.  
“The increases are striking. The high rates of cocaine, prescription drug and alcohol use are alarming. I strongly encourage parents to talk to their kids and build open communications. We, as a school need to, and will be stepping up our prevention education starting in the middle school,” said Crested Butte Community School Principle, Stephanie Niemi. “I want parents to wake up and pay attention to their children. Talk to them and supervise their behavior.”
The Gunnison County Substance Abuse Prevention Project (GCSAPP), works throughout the county to reduce and prevent substance abuse as a community based coalition. GCSAPP receives the Healthy Kids Colorado data on substance use for 6-12 graders and uses the data to track trends as well as to inform the community of underage consumption.
“The substance use rates for grades 6-12 throughout the district and at CBCS are concerning to the GCSAPP and we will continue to reach out to parents and students in our prevention efforts,” said GCSAPP Coordinator, Molly Mugglestone.  “Seeing an increase in binge drinking and illicit drugs shows us that we need to step up our efforts in working with parents and encourage them to talk to their kids, not host parties with alcohol or drugs and to monitor what their kids are doing over the summer.”
In a culture where drug and alcohol use has become ritualistic, those imbibing often outnumber the teetotalers, making it difficult for youth to receive a clear message on healthy consumption. For more information on substance abuse trends or how to get involved, visit www.GCSAPP.net.    

Brooke Harless is Community Liason with the GCSAPP

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