Variability in Drug Use Prevalence Across School Districts in the Same Locale in Ohio

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Substance use by adolescents continues to present a problem schools must address. Data from survey research can prove useful in helping schools determine the nature and extent of youth drug use. This study identified variations in drug use prevalence among ninth grade students in different school districts in the same locale in Ohio. Possible explanations for the differences were explored. Students (n = 3,016) from 12 suburban high schools anonymously completed self-report drug use questionnaires. School and community-level data were collected from other sources. Cluster analysis was used to group the school districts. ANOVA revealed statistically significant differences (P ≤ 0.001) in levels of drug use by cluster. The cluster with significantly lower levels of drug use consisted of districts with at least one fulltime drug abuse prevention coordinator, higher economic levels, and the highest per pupil expenditures. Drug use among youth is influenced, at least in part, by local contextual factors. Local survey data can inform local policy and programs. These findings have practical implications for policymakers, program developers, and school districts in other areas of the country.



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