Hope, Concern, and Action

This report reveals data about alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) use and beliefs among Minnesota students in ten communities. As you will read on the following pages, there are three important conclusions that must be recognized:

  • (1) Most youth are making good decisions and have healthy beliefs about ATOD;
  • (2) Many youth drastically over-estimate the prevalence of ATOD use among their peers and are therefore at greater risk for using ATOD themselves;
  • (3) Too many youth are using ATOD which is both illegal and risky.

All these conclusions must be addressed in a comprehensive prevention effort.

So, while most students in these ten communities are making good decisions about ATOD, the negative impacts for some that do use are devastating. Alcohol-related accidents, including car crashes, are a leading cause of death among 15-24 year-olds. Alcohol use contributes to poor academic performance, violence, property damage, sexual assaults, and other negative consequences.

These data indicate that these ten communities must take action to prevent ATOD use. Since most students are making healthy choices about not using, they become our greatest ally. We can all work together to increase the majority of youth who are making healthy decisions. One way to do this is to use these data to correct the misperceptions that teens have about their peers and ATOD.

The role of the community is to clearly communicate that while most teens are making healthy choices, any underage ATOD use is illegal, dangerous, and unacceptable – to both teens and adults. Communicating accurate information and establishing clear guidelines will cultivate even stronger positive community norms across Minnesota.

Survey Background

The results presented in this report are based on the 2013 Positive Community Norms Student Survey. These data represent findings from a project involving 10 selected sites from across Minnesota. This report was prepared under a special project operated by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) – Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division. The results in this report focus on youth substance use and attitudes. These survey results are based on 526 surveys of 7-12th graders from Park Rapids; the overall response rate for student surveys was 80%.


Key Actions 2013

Key Actions

This report reveals both hope and concern when it comes to preventing alcohol, tobacco and other drug use in Minnesota. As with all communities, there are still serious problems that must be addressed.

As a community member, your voice matters. Data are only helpful when put into action. Here are key actions you can take:

  • Share and discuss this report with coalition members, community leaders and friends (see dialog questions below)
  • Use this information to promote hope for successfully reducing ATOD use
  • Promote intervention and treatment options
  • Compare these data with other findings in your community
  • Use these data to guide policy development
  • Frame media and steer public conversations using these data
  • Create messages to correct misperceptions among youth, parents and community members

Questions to Foster Meaningful Dialog

Questions to Focus Collective Attention

  • What opportunities can you see that the data are revealing?
  • What do we still need to learn about this issue?
  • What would someone who had a very different set of beliefs than you do say about these data?

Questions to Reveal Deeper Insights

  • What has had real meaning for you from what you’ve seen in the data?
  • What surprised you? What challenged you? What encouraged you?
  • What needs clarification?
  • What’s been your major learning, insight, or discovery so far from these data?

Questions to Create Forward Movement

  • What’s possible here?
  • What will it take to create change?
  • What needs our immediate attention going forward?

Youth Substance Use and Perceived Use

What These Data Tell Us

Youth Substance Use and Perceived Use

In 2013, 85% (High School grades 9-12, 80% / Middle School grades 7-8, 93%) of students reported using alcohol less than monthly. However, 46% (HS 61% / MS 18%) of these same students perceived most students at their school drink monthly or more often, and 59% (HS 58%, MS 62%) perceived most adults in their community drink weekly or more often. Q16B, Q17B, Q17AB

  • In 2013, 93% (HS 90% / MS 98%) of students reported drinking alcohol at a party less than monthly during the past 12 months. Q10A
  • In 2013, 75% (HS 68% / MS 90%) of students reported never getting drunk in the past 12 months. Q10B
  • In 2013, 88% (HS 84% / MS 95%) of students reported using tobacco less than once per month. However, 43% (HS 56% / MS 18%) of these same students perceived most students at their school use tobacco monthly or more often, and 69% (HS 69%, MS 69%) perceived most adults in their community use tobacco monthly or more often. Q16A, Q17A, Q17AA
  • In 2013, most students reported never using other drugs. However, many students perceived that most students at their school use these drugs (see table below). Q16C-J, Q17C-J
  Students who reported never using… Students who perceived most students in their school use…
Marijuana (pot, hash, hash oil) 82% (HS 77% / MS 91%) 67% (HS 77% / MS 49%)
Cocaine (crack, rock, freebase) 98% (HS 97% / MS 99%) 31% (HS 35% / MS 23%)
Methamphetamines / Amphetamines (meth, diet pills, speed, crank) 98% (HS 98% / MS 99%) 30% (HS 33% / MS 25%)
Other illegal drugs including sedatives (downers, ludes), hallucinogens (LSD, PCP, mushrooms), opiates (heroin, smack, horse) and designer drugs (ecstasy, MDMA) 97% (HS 96% / MS 99%) 34% (HS 38% / MS 24%)
Inhalants (glue, solvents, gas) 96% (HS 97% / MS 94%) 39% (HS 37% / MS 42%)
Over the counter drugs for the purpose of getting high (cough medicine, cold tablets) 96% (HS 96% / MS 96%) 44% (HS 45% / MS 40%)
Prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription 90% (HS 88% / MS 94%) 50% (HS 53% / MS 45%)

In 2013, 37% (HS 41%, MS 31%) perceived most adults in their community use marijuana once or twice a year or more often. Similarly, 29% (HS 31%, MS 25%) perceived most adults in their community use prescription drugs not prescribed to them once or twice a year or more often. Q17AC, Q17AD

Alcohol Use, Consequences and Perceptions

Alcohol Use, Consequences and Perceptions

  • In 2013, 71% (HS 76% / MS 60%) of students reported never riding in a car or other vehicle in the past 12 months driven by someone who drank alcohol before or while driving. However, 73% (HS 77% / MS 65%) of these same students perceived most students at their school had one or more times; 85% (HS 85% / MS 84%) of these same students perceived most adults in their community had as well. Q11
  • In 2013, 93% (HS 92% / MS 93%) of students reported never driving a car or other vehicle in the past 12 months while drinking alcohol or after drinking alcohol. However, 50% (HS 65% / MS 22%) of these same students perceived most students at their school had; 81% (HS 82% / MS 80%) of these same students perceived most adults in their community had. Q12

Attitudes and Perceptions about Alcohol and Tobacco

Attitudes and Perceptions about Alcohol and Tobacco

  • In 2013, 65% (HS 60% / MS 74%) of students strongly agreed or agreed that “drinking alcohol is never a good thing for anyone my age to do.” However, 62% (HS 71% / MS 43%) of these same students perceived that most students at their school would not agree (either disagree or neither agree nor disagree). Q6A, Q6B
  • In 2013, 74% (HS 68% / MS 85%) of students strongly agreed or agreed that “getting drunk is never a good thing for anyone my age to do.” However, 51% (HS 63% / MS 26%) of these same students perceived that most students at their school would not agree (either disagree or neither agree nor disagree). Q7A, Q7B
  • In 2013, 60% (HS 61% / MS 58%) of students believe people risk harming themselves (physically or in other ways) if they have five or more drinks of an alcoholic beverage (beer, wine, liquor) once or twice a week. Q28A
  • In 2013, 71% (HS 66% / MS 80%) of students reported they would rather not drink alcohol when they hang out with their friends. However, 22% (HS 31% / MS 5%) of these same students perceived that most students at their school would rather drink alcohol when they hang out with their friends. Q8, Q9
  • In 2013, 47% (HS 39% / MS 62%) of students disapproved of their friends drinking any amount of alcohol. Q18A
  • In 2013, 62% (HS 63% / MS 60%) of students strongly agreed that they would support a friend if he/she chose not to drink alcohol. However, 73% (HS 73% / MS 73%) of these same students perceived that most students at their school would not feel the same way. Q19
  • In 2013, 60% (HS 52% / MS 76%) of students disapproved of their friends getting drunk. Q18B
  • In 2013, 69% (HS 71% / MS 67%) of students strongly disapproved of their friends driving a vehicle after drinking alcohol. Q18D
  • In 2013, 60% (HS 63% / MS 55%) of students strongly disapproved of their friends riding in a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking alcohol. Q18E
  • In 2013, 56% (HS 54% / MS 61%) of students strongly agreed that “using commercial tobacco is never a good thing for anyone my age to do.” However, 82% (HS 87% / MS 74%) of these same students perceived that most students at their school would not feel this way. Q13A, Q13B
  • In 2013, 68% (HS 64% / MS 75%) of students disapproved of their friends smoking cigarettes. Q18C
  • In 2013, 84% (HS 83% / MS 85%) of students believe people risk harming themselves (physically or in other ways) if they smoke one or more packs of cigarettes per day. Q28B

Student Perceptions of Parents

Student Perceptions of Parents

  • In 2013, 92% (HS 91% / MS 96%) of students reported that their parents do not allow them and their friends to drink alcohol at their homes. However, 6% (HS 6% / MS 5%) of these same students perceived most parents (60% or more) at their school do allow their teens and their teens’ friends to drink alcohol at their homes. Q21, Q22
  • In 2013, 69% (HS 62% / MS 83%) of students agreed that “parents should not let their teens and their teens’ friends drink alcohol at home.” However, 48% (HS 59% / MS 27%) of these same students perceived most students in their school would not agree (either disagree or neither agree nor disagree). 21% (HS 27% / MS 9%) of these same students perceived most parents of students in their school would not agree (either disagree or neither agree nor disagree). Q23
  • In 2013, 73% (HS 69% / MS 81%) of students agreed that “parents and other adults should clearly communicate with their children about the importance of not using alcohol.” However, 44% (HS 49% / MS 33%) of these same students perceived most students at their school would not agree (either disagree or neither agree nor disagree). 21% (HS 24% / MS 14%) of these same students perceived most parents of students in their school would not agree (either disagree or neither agree nor disagree). Q20
  • In 2013, 65% (HS 63% / MS 70%) of students reported that their parents had discussed their family rules about youth not using alcohol with them in the past 12 months. However, 22% (HS 24% / MS 18%) of these same students perceived most other students’ parents from their school had not discussed their family rules about youth not using alcohol with them in the past 12 months. Q24
  • In 2013, 77% (HS 75% / MS 81%) of students reported that their parents would feel it was wrong for them to drink any alcohol. Similarly, 94% (HS 94% / MS 94%) of students reported that their parents would feel it was wrong for them to have one or two drinks of an alcoholic beverage nearly every day. Q29A, Q29B
  • In 2013, 91% (HS 88% / MS 94%) of students reported that their parents would feel it was wrong for them to smoke tobacco. Q29C
  • In 2013, 93% (HS 92% / MS 94%) of students reported that their parents would feel it was wrong for them to smoke marijuana. Q29D
  • In 2013, 95% (HS 95% / MS 96%) of students reported that their parents would feel it was wrong for them to use prescription drugs not prescribed to them. Q29E

Student Awareness of Campaign Efforts for Park Rapids

Student Awareness of Campaign Efforts for Park Rapids

  • In 2013, 64% (HS 69% / MS 54%) of students reported seeing any tobacco, alcohol, drug, or other prevention campaign advertisements, posters, or brochures in their school in the past 12 months. Q31
  • In 2013, 79% (HS 88% / MS 60%) of students reported seeing “We Decide” messages in the past 12 months. Q32
  • In 2013, 37% (HS 42% / MS 28%) of students reported hearing or seeing “We Decide” messages on average a few times a week or more often in the past 12 months. 44% (HS 33% / MS 63%) reported hearing or seeing “We Decide” messages on average a few times a year or less often in the past 12 months. Q33

The following table summarizes in what ways students reported seeing or hearing “We Decide” messages. Q34

  Students who reported “yes” to seeing or hearing “We Decide” messages School newspaper 9% (HS 10% / MS 6%)
Local newspaper 15% (HS 18% / MS 9%)
Radio 14% (HS 17% / MS 9%)
Internet (Facebook, web ads, etc.) 25% (HS 23% / MS 30%)
Posters or other materials at school 82% (HS 90% / MS 67%)
Events at school (pep rallies, prom, sporting events, other activities) 63% (HS 70% / MS 49%)
Give-aways (water bottles, pencils, etc.) 50% (HS 57% / MS 36%)
Discussed messages in a class 30% (HS 28% / MS 33%)
Discussed messages with your friends 19% (HS 20% / MS 17%)
Discussed messages with your parents 12% (HS 12% / MS 13%)
Movie theater slides or ads 8% (HS 9% / MS 7%)
Billboards or signs in the community 16% (HS 17% / MS 14%)

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For more information, contact

Angela Graham, P and I Grant Coordinator

Phone: 218-255-3692
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Hubbard In Prevention Office

Frank White Education Center
301 Huntsinger Ave.
Park Rapids, MN 56470
Phone 218-255-3692