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%.