Substance use higher among Washoe teens vs. Clark

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Substance use higher among Washoe teens vs. Clark

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A new state study on risky teen behaviors in Nevada has found higher rates of substance use in Washoe versus Clark County. Those substances include cigarettes, alcohol, illicit drugs, and painkillers without a prescription.

A new state study on risky teen behaviors in Nevada has found higher rates of substance use in Washoe versus Clark County. The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Study shows more Washoe teens are binge drinking, using tobacco, and taking illicit drugs than their Southern counterparts.

More than 14% percent of high school students in Washoe County currently smoke cigarettes while about half as many Clark County students are puffing smoke.

"Clark County has done a lot of work around tobacco prevention, and I think we see that reflected in the most recent data we have available," says Kristen Clements-Nolle, a co-investigator for the study and associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Nevada, Reno. "Our goal is to make sure that that prevention programming is happening in all counties, including our rural and frontier counties."

Along with tobacco, Washoe ranked higher than Clark County for illicit drug use, including cocaine, ecstasy, and several others. Additionally, more Washoe teens have taken painkillers without a prescription.

"I think Washoe County has some of the urban youth issues but doesn't always have the resources that some major cities have," says Clements-Nolle, "so I think you'll see some disparities if you're looking at Washoe County compared to Clark County."

The binge drinking rate is also higher in Washoe by eight percent. That means almost a quarter of all high school students are downing five or more alcoholic drinks in just a few hours at least once during the past month.

Nearly 4,000 high school students participated in the study from about 70 schools across the state, representing every county.

A similar study was done in 2011, but this new data is more comprehensive and researchers say it will allow community coalitions to begin charting trends in youth behavior so they can determine where their efforts should be focused.