Local News

Alabama high school students say they use tobacco products and a variety of illegal drugs at higher rates than the nationwide average, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance report is issued annually and focuses on six priority health-risk behaviors. The 2013 data was gathered through a survey issued to high school students at public and private schools across the country. Alabama is one of 42 states that participates in the survey.

While the data is vulnerable to the honesty of survey takers, it still provides important information on prevalence of drug use among youths.

According to the report, Alabama's youth are more likely to use heroin, methamphetamines, non-prescribed steroids, and inhalants than the national average. They are also more likely to have injected an illegal drug with a needle and to have been offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school property.

Rates of drug use were up from the numbers reported in the 2009 survey -- the year that Congress voted to cut part of the "Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities" program that provided federal funding to local educational agencies for drug prevention activities.

Heroin and meth

Alabama reported the third highest rate of students claiming to have used heroin, with 5.3 percent of respondents saying they have used the drug.

They also saw the third highest rate for students claiming to have done meth, with 6.2 percent saying they have used the drug. 

Dr. Jim McVay of Alabama's Department of Public Health said that the data reflects "anecdotal evidence" that he has received from emergency rooms across the state that there has been an increasing amount of heroin and meth overdoses, which he said may suggest a resurgence in the accessibility of both drugs.

"It was not available and now it's readily available," he said.

Earlier this year, AL.com reported on the increasing number of heroin deaths in Alabama.


Of the states surveyed, Alabama had the second highest rate of students admitting to currently be using tobacco products with 27.8 percent of respondents currently using either cigarettes, cigars or smokeless tobacco.

© 2014 AL.com. All rights reserved.

By Jacob Green on June 25, 2014 at 7:30 PM, updated June 26, 2014 at 6:54 AM


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