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Teenage Drug and Alcohol Use Higher in Coastal OC Communities

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In most places, poverty is a risk factor for substance abuse among teenagers, according to national statistics. Orange County, however, is an exception, with the county Health Care Agency finding that teen drug, alcohol, and tobacco use is highest in affluent coastal communities, reported the Orange County Register.

Laguna Beach teens reported some of the highest rates of substance use in the county: 23.8% smoking, 47.7% drinking, and, more than anywhere else, 29.8% drug use. High school students in the wealthy beachside community are three times as likely to smoke as teens in Santa Ana. Last January, the Register reported that two girls were caught smoking heroin in the bathroom at Laguna Beach High School.

Throughout Orange County, drug use among teenagers, specifically that of prescription pills and heroin, has been on the rise in recent years. From 2006 to 2012, the number of ninth-graders who admitted to trying heroin doubled. Fatal prescription drug overdoses among teens and young adults increased from 130 in 2003 to 266 in 2009.

Factors contributing to teenage substance use include whether their parents and peers drink and if they think their parents approve of drinking, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. With more resources in Orange County, teens may have greater access to alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, indicated the Register.

Why do you think substance use among teens is greater in the county’s beach cities? What should be done to deter them from using?

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