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Ryan Johnson, Published February 21 2013

NDSU students report fewer substance issues

FARGO – Fewer North Dakota State University State students are using drugs or having problems because of alcohol use, survey results released Thursday show.

The 2012 CORE survey of 781 students last fall showed 9.5 percent of respondents had used marijuana in the past 30 days, down from 11.4 percent in 2010.

“I won’t say it was surprising, but we’re pleased to see that our marijuana rates went down a little bit,” said Erika Beseler Thompson, assistant director of alcohol and other drug abuse prevention. “We know that it’s a nationwide trend that marijuana rates are going up, particularly among the youth population.”

Fewer than 2 percent of students reported using any other illegal drug in the past 30 days, with just 0.1 percent saying they had used synthetic or designer drugs and 1.8 percent reporting the nonmedical use of prescription drugs. That’s down from respective rates of 0.8 percent and 7.8 percent in 2008.

Beseler Thompson said rates of alcohol use rates have changed little in the 11 years since the survey was first administered.

About 75 percent of students said they had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days, including 64.6 percent of those under the legal drinking age of 21. About 53 percent of students reported binge drinking of five or more drinks in one sitting in the past two weeks. Those numbers are up just slightly from the results of the 2010 survey, and are several percentage points higher than the national average in 2010.

Beseler Thompson said higher-than-average rates of alcohol use and binge drinking are seen among all age groups in North Dakota, and the higher use on the NDSU campus could be a reflection of the local culture and attitudes toward drinking.

But she said the new survey shows an encouraging trend: Fewer students reported harmful consequences from alcohol use in 16 of 19 categories.

“We’re really pleased, and that’s really our main focus,” she said. “We know that alcohol in and of itself isn’t the problem; it’s the misuse of alcohol and the negative consequences that our students experience and our community experiences and our state experiences.”

Last fall’s survey shows 24.1 percent of students reported driving a car while under the influence of alcohol – less than half of the 48.8 percent who said they did so in 2001 – and the percentage of students who were arrested for driving under the influence dropped from 3.7 percent in 2005 to 0.6 percent in 2012.

Beseler Thompson said the results will be used to evaluate past efforts to tackle alcohol and drug abuse, and to help plan for the future.

“This helps us identify which groups and which efforts are really going to be the ones that we need to focus on,” she said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587