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According to the 2019 Community Views Survey, Fountain Hills residents feel alcohol and substance abuse is the most prominent issue facing the community’s youth.

The survey was made available to the community this past spring and drew around 200 participants. Shana Malone presented the results to those in attendance during the Aug. 22 Fountain Hills Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition meeting. According to Malone, the report reveals what Fountain Hills residents perceive to be major issues affecting the community.

This survey is conducted every two years and the results help guide the decisions and activities of the coalition.

When asked about the most severe issue facing local youths, alcohol and substance abuse was followed by anxiety/stress, then depression.

Another question on the survey asked participants which substances caused the most problems in Fountain Hills. The top answer was prescription drugs, followed by alcohol, meth, heroin and e-cigarettes rounding out the top five.

Sixth on the list as perceived problems was marijuana, with 23 percent of participants following up by stating they know do not know what THC concentrates are.

According to Coalition Director Shelly Mowrey, this is one of the areas in need of attention moving forward.

“We need to work on better educating parents on the facts of marijuana concentrates and the flowers or buds and the impact on the young brain,” she said.

Concern

When it comes to concern about local youth using certain substances in the community, the results were lower this year when compared to 2018. A total of 66 percent of participants are concerned about underage use of alcohol in Fountain Hills in 2019 compared to 78 percent in 2017, for instance. Similarly, the numbers for marijuana moved from 70 percent to 59 percent and prescription drugs moved from 90 percent to 87 percent.

As a silver lining, it was noted these differences could be due not to a growing lack of concern, but perhaps a perceived degree of progress over the past two years. In other words, parents may be less concerned about teen alcohol use because of heightened efforts to combat it.

“Coordinated efforts around a substance increase awareness, education and action,” Mowrey said. “This was evident in our prescription drug responses from parents and the large increase in the number of people knowing where and how to dispose of medication propertly.”

Perceptions

Parenting methods differ when it comes to substance use, so a series of questions targeted how community members handle those issues in their own home.

The big standout was prescription drugs, with 100 percent of participants saying they do not believe it is okay for local youth to misuse someone else’s prescription drugs “once or twice,” if they “don’t drive afterward” or “at home as long as an adult is there.”

Other substances, however, did not receive the same disapproval.

When asked if it was okay for local youth to drink alcohol “once or twice,” only 67 percent of participants disagreed with the statement. Five percent said it was okay to drink at parties so long as the teen doesn’t get drunk, with six percent saying it’s okay to drink so long as a teen doesn’t drive afterward. A total of 24 percent of participants said it was okay for a teen to drink at home so long as an adult is present.

With marijuana, 26 percent of survey participants felt it was okay for youth to use the substance once or twice, with 9 percent saying it is fine to use so long as you do not drive afterward. When it comes to using marijuana at home so long as an adult is present, 15 percent of participants thought that would be fine.

For additional information on the coalition and resources covering the Safe Homes Network, the P3 Tips app, prescription drug disposal, local school programs and more, visit fhcoalition.org.

Vaping

One of the focuses of the coalition is community outreach and education on a range of topics impacting today’s youth. As such, Mowrey encourages local parents to consider attending an upcoming presentation on vaping.

Recent data indicates that 51 percent of high school-aged youngsters have tried vaping.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office will sponsor a program about facts and myths at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Church of the Ascension, 12615 N. Fountain Hills Blvd.

Brnovich warns that illegal tobacco sales are on the rise and state officials blame the uptick on e-cigarettes to minors.

The presentation will include information on the evolution of e-cigarettes and the dangers associated with the device and the chemicals that are inhaled when using them.

Arizona law bans sales of tobacco products, including devices that vaporize nicotine, to those under age 18. Potential fines range from $300 for an individual to $1,000 for a business.