Missoula County kids' alcohol use is down from previous years.

[Missoula Forum for Children & Youth Article - December 9, 2016]

Adolescent Substance Use and Mental Health Data 

"Survey Breaks Down Substance Abuse, Mental Health Issues Among Missoula Youth"

Survey results detailing students' substance use and mental health show Missoula's kids are abusing drugs and alcohol less, though depression and suicide still loom.

This comes from the 2016 Prevention Needs Assessment Survey, conducted by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services' Addictive and Mental Disorders Division this spring in grades 8, 10 and 12. In Missoula County, 1,730 students participated.

"Our young people are doing the best they can to make good choices, however I think it's important that the public understands some of the struggles our young people are having," said Brandee Tyree, Missoula Underage Substance Abuse Prevention coordinator for Missoula Forum for Children and Youth. "I never like to paint a picture that's, 'Holy cow, young people are horrible, they're all out drinking and smoking."


By the time last year's Missoula County high school seniors made it to graduation, about 72 percent had imbibed alcohol at least once.

"I think we still need to work on in Montana ... that underage drinking is not a rite of passage," she said. "You don't have to do it to move into adulthood. I think adult Montanans drink a lot, so kids are no different. They mimic our behavior."

Missoula County kids' alcohol use is down from previous years.

"I believe prevention works," Tyree said. "I think we're talking more about mental health. Alcohol often can be seen as a stress reliever. Our parents' generation, alcohol is just alcohol. I am seeing that college kids (today) drink and drive way less than previous generations, and I think that alcohol is not quite as cool.

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