COLUMBUS—Prescription painkiller abuse by teens dropped nearly in half during the past two years, according to the Ohio Department of Health’s 2013 Ohio Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). In 2011, 21.3 percent of students reported using prescription pain relievers or painkillers without a doctor’s prescription one or more times during their life; in 2013 that dropped to 12.8 percent. The number of Ohio’s youth who reported using heroin also decreased from 3.1 percent to 2 percent.
“Ohio has made the fight on prescription opioids a priority and it is showing in the choices that our children are making,” said Lance Himes, Interim Director for the Ohio Department of Health. “While this is great news, there is still a lot of work to be done in physical nutrition and other risky behavior.”
A new question added in 2013 in an effort to measure distracted driving shows that 46 percent of students report texting or emailing while driving a car. Otherwise, most teens are practicing safe driving habits. Seatbelt use while riding in a car has increased to 92 percent and driving with someone who has been drinking has decreased to 17 percent.
Healthy eating and physical activity continue to be areas where Ohio teens need improvement. Only 19.3 percent of students report eating fruits and vegetables five or more times per day, while 27 percent report eating fast food three or more times per week. Only 26 percent get the recommended 60 minutes daily physical activity and 29 percent of students report a height and weight that classify them as overweight or obese.
Other key findings of the YRBS include:
70 percent of student do not drink alcohol
85 percent of students do not smoke cigarettes
75 percent of students saw a dentist during the past year
82 percent of students feel safe and secure at school always or most of the time
83 percent of students report having an adult they are comfortable seeking help with a problem
The 2013 YRBS marks 20 years since Ohio began surveying its high school students on their health and risk behaviors and show some very positive trends along with some areas for improvement. The Ohio YRBS is conducted by the Ohio Department of Health under the direction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2013 survey was completed by more than 1,455 randomly selected students in 44 public and private high schools throughout the state of Ohio during the spring of 2013. By collecting and evaluating the data through YRBS, it is possible to determine the prevalence of health-risk behaviors among adolescents as well as to monitor progress in terms of improvement of the health of adolescents overall.