Mayo Regional Hospital's Counseling Program and the Piscataquis Public Health Council partnered to assess alcohol, tobacco and other drug use in Piscataquis Youth – Goal to decrease Alcohol and Tobacco Use by Youth.
Adult "Role Modeling" noted important to healthy youth development in Piscataquis County
Dover-Foxcroft – Mayo Regional Hospital's Counseling Program and the Piscataquis Public Health Council (PPHC), our region's Healthy Maine Partnership has teamed up to look at alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use in Piscataquis County youth.
Funding for this assessment was made possible through Maine's Office of Substance Abuse (OSA). The assessment process looked at Maine Youth Drug and Alcohol Use Survey (MYDAUS) data, community interviews with schools, parks and recreation, and law enforcement, and community focus groups were conducted that included youth, parents, grandparents, and professionals.
According to the MYDAUS County Reports on 30-day use of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and binge drinking ninth grade appears to be the year of increased use and experimentation. In looking at which substance (tobacco or alcohol) appears to be more of a problem at an earlier age in Piscataquis County, the data indicates that cigarettes are the bigger problem because more youth are using earlier; however, alcohol poses the most immediate and catastrophic level of risk.
Based on the OSA Indicator Data, Piscataquis County has a higher than state average of youth alcohol related arrests. The data also showed that Drug Law violations are below state average for youth, but significantly higher for adults.
Risk factors that were identified for Piscataquis County include ease of access to drugs, community norms tolerant of use, economic and social deprivation, family history of substance abuse, parental attitudes accepting of drug use, and early initiation to alcohol or drug use.
Based on the community interviews with schools, parks and recreation, and law enforcement professionals, 7 out of 9 indicated that underage drinking is a serious problem in Piscataquis County; and 8 out of 9 indicated that youth tobacco use is a serious problem in Piscataquis County.
All schools take these issues seriously and all have clear policies to deal with these issues, according to area superintendents. School policies commonly utilize consequences, education and parental involvement with each incident. Police are usually involved at the discretion of the administrator – depending on the circumstances. Schools recognize that their influence has limitations because they can only impact this issue while youth are on school grounds or involved in school activities. Most use/abuse takes place off school grounds and not on school time. Parks and recreation interviews indicated that use/abuse in parks is almost non-existent in our County. Most use by youth takes place in private homes or deep in rural areas. As a result, it is important that the issue is viewed as a broader community and family issue, with very real law enforcement consequences.
Law enforcement policies are generally consistent across the county. Parents are always informed and citations are issued for alcohol and tobacco use by minors. However, buyers of alcohol are the most difficult to target and appear to be plentiful. Enforcement resources are readily accessible. Parents can contribute to underage drinking by indifference or actual support of behaviors, according to the study results. At the same time, parents are often one of the most powerful determinant of effective interventions.
The focus groups participated in very open and candid discussions around the issues of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use. From these discussions the Piscataquis Public Health Council and Mayo Regional Hospital's Counseling Program obtained the following information:
The Piscataquis Public Health Council is one of 31 local Healthy Maine Partnerships, working on tobacco-prevention and control, physical activity and nutrition using tobacco settlement funds provided through the Fund for a Healthy Maine.
If you would like more information about how you can get involved in addressing tobacco and alcohol use by youth in your community, please contact either Renee Tash, Mayo Regional Hospital's Counseling Program at firstname.lastname@example.org, 564-4276 or Robin Mayo, Community Partnership Director, Piscataquis Public Health Council at email@example.com, 564-4344.
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