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Let’s Talk: The Data Behind Teen Substance Use: Not “Everyone Is Doing It”

February 22, 2019

Our children may say to us, “everyone is doing it.” And with all the media attention onteen vaping  and the changing landscape around marijuana legalization, we might believe them.

However, the reality is that the majority of teens are making the healthy choice not to misuse alcohol and other drugs. According to the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey, 70% of Stillwater 11th graders report not using an alcohol in the past 30 days, and 74% report they have not used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days. The Minnesota Student Survey (MNSS) is an accurate data source, passing validity and reliability tests. The anonymous statewide survey conducted to gain insights into the world of students and their experiences, is slated to be given this spring.

The MNSS and other surveys like the annual national Monitoring the Future Study, also show that adolescents dramatically overestimate peer substance use. And, if their perception of substance use is exaggerated, teens may make risky choices aligned with these inaccurate, unhealthy beliefs. Just because kids may think, “everyone is doing it” doesn’t mean that is the reality.

As parents, caregivers and educators, we can use the social norms approach and emphasize that the majority of students in Minnesota and across the nation continue to make healthy choices around substance use.

Another Year of Growth and Service to Kids and Families

YSB ended 2018 financially sound with solid growth in our therapy, chemical health and youth and family education programs.  Our diversion staff continued to work effectively with at-risk kids to help them turn their lives around after their first encounters with the judicial system. Last year we served over 14,000 youth and family members in all our programs, added new talents to our already strong staff and Board of Directors and continued to build relationships with the school districts and law enforcement agencies we work with.

Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey was elected President of the Board of Directors, along with Brian Zeller (Vice President), Ryan Baldwin (Treasurer) and Brent Wartner (Secretary). New board members include Ben Granley (CEO, Werner Electric Supply), Khurram Hassan (US Bank) and Randy Bachman (Branch Manager, Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove).  Jessica Danberg (Chief of Police, City of St. Paul Park) will be elected to the Board in February.

If you haven’t yet attended one of our Youth and Family Education programs, please do!  Through engaging documentaries such as Screenagers, Angst, andLike,followed by panel discussions led by YSB staff, we have been highlighting ways to combat screen addiction, social media abuse, anxiety and depression in youth.  For more on what YSB offers parents who are concerned about their children’s mental health and the challenges of growing up, please check out our calendar of community events at  https://ysb.net/what-we-do/classes-and-events/

Don’t forget to save the date for our next Gala, which will be held on May 10, 2019 from 5:30-9 pm  at the Royal Golf Club in Lake Elmo.  We will continue our tradition of bringing you the best in speakers on topics of interest to all families and connecting you with leaders from throughout the Metro area whose goal is to make the lives of at-risk kids better and help them become production community members.  This year we will highlight our  expanding work in Youth and Family Education.  I hope to see you there!

Bob Sherman
Executive Director

What’s That Called Again? Part 2

Substance Trends of Today and Their Nicknames
By: Gina Johnson, Chemical Health Prevention Specialist

The use of substances have been around for centuries but what was popular 10 years ago may not be the drug of choice now.

According to the MN Student Survey, an anonymous survey taken every 3 years, the 3 most popular substances used by students are alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco. Those 3 have been the leading substances used by students for the past 20 years. However, their strength and how they are delivered into the body has changed drastically.

For the past five years a new device that delivers nicotine has flown onto the radar. It is called an Electronic Cigarette and it has surpassed cigarettes with usage among youth. At this point, an E-cig, is nothing like a traditional cigarette. It uses a battery to heat up liquid nicotine and turns it into an aerosol for the user to take a hit and get an immediate intense nicotine buzz.

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Teaching Youth Self-Care

Guest Author:  Jodi Witte
D833 Grant & Wellness Coordinator

In South Washington County Schools, self-care is being taught alongside reading, writing, and arithmetic.  That’s because staff are seeing anxiety levels on the rise, increasing behavioral problems, and other mental-health related issues.

To address these growing needs beyond the traditional social-emotional curriculum, students and staff are practicing breathing techniques, mindful movement and other proven strategies that regulate the body’s nervous system to improve focus, concentration and mental wellbeing.   Our students and staff all benefit from a working knowledge of brain and body functioning and how to manage stress, anxiety, and difficult emotions in our fast-paced and interconnected world of digital technology.

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