Drug, alcohol use high among middle schoolers

There is a lot of drinking and misuse of prescription drugs among minors among middle school students in Odessa. In many cases, use is higher than the state average, a report presented at the Student Health Advisory Council meeting detailed.
Mellessa Brenem, director of prevention programs at the Permian Basin Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, presented results from the 2018 Texas School Survey.
The Texas School Survey of Alcohol and Drug Abuse is conducted every other year among students in grades seven through 12 by the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University.
This year, it included 30 schools in Public Health Region 9, which includes Odessa and Midland.
Among minors in the public health region, prescription drug abuse is 21.1 percent. Statewide it is 18.5 percent and the national average is 15.5 percent.
Some 7.3 percent of students here reported using a prescription drug within the past 30 days.
Data from two Odessa middle schools was presented, identified as School A and School B. Information was from 2018.
Among eighth-graders at School B, 41.8 percent of eighth-graders said they had used alcohol in the past 30 days.
Tobacco use among seventh graders at School A was 6.7 percent and 7.1 percent at School B. In Texas, it was 5.6 percent.
Alcohol use among seventh graders at School A was 18.1 percent and School B, 28.2 percent. Statewide, it was 14.7 percent among seventh graders and 20.4 percent for eighth graders.
Marijuana use among seventh graders at School A was 5.9 percent and 8.4 percent at School B. For eighth-graders, marijuana use was at 11.8 percent at School A and 13.8 percent for School B.
In Texas, 4 percent of seventh-graders reported using marijuana and 7.7 percent of eighth graders reported using the drug.
For prescription drugs, 6.5 percent of seventh-graders reported use in the past 30 days at School A and 7.7 percent at School B.
Some 13.5 percent of eighth-graders at School A had reported prescription drug use in the past month and 9.8 percent at School B. Statewide for seventh-graders it was 6.1 percent for seventh graders and 7.1 percent for eighth graders.
Prescription drugs include not only opiates, but any prescription drug that is misused, or taken when it was not prescribed to be taken, the presentation said.
School A was generally lower than the state rate for opioid abuse while School B was higher than the state rate for opioid abuse. Opiods included Oxycontin, Percodan, Percocet, Oxycodone, Vicodin, Lortab and Hydrocodone. Nearly 3 percent of seventh and eighth graders at School B reported they’ve abused opioids already, the presentation said.
Ector County ISD Police Lt. Scott McKown said on the west side there is a lot of marijuana and cocaine found in the schools and on the east side it’s Xanax and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medication.
McKown said police are catching “tons of” codeine. He added that students are dealing it.
He said the tablets are easier to identify than syrup form.
Brenem said there is a Drug Free Texas Media Campaign for parents and people who work with parents and youth. You can subscribe and receive tips on encouraging youth every two weeks by texting DRUGFREETX in English to 468-311.
For Spanish, text LIBREDEDROGAS to 468-311. For more information, call PBRCADA at 333-4100.
On another item, Michael Neiman, the liaison between the ECISD school board and the Student Health Advisory Council, said he and a parent on the SHAC committee visited Travis Elementary, a campus in Midland that is using mindfulness.
Neiman said he’d never seen a more clam, relaxed campus where students were following the rules.
“It was amazing,” Neiman said.
San Jacinto Junior High School in Midland also is piloting mindfulness.
Neiman said he has three elementary school teachers in Odessa who are trying it out, but it will be up to district leadership and the school board to make a decision.