Rural kids more likely to admit drinking


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January 28, 2016 9:58 AM

Are country teens more boozy than their city counterparts?
A new study says kids going to school in rural areas are more likely to admit to excessive drinking and impaired driving than their urban counterparts.
The technical report was released on Jan. 13 by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) and aptly titled Urban and Rural Student Substance Abuse.
The findings said more specifically that students who go to rural schools are more likely than their urban peers to report the use of alcohol, binge drinking and driving after drinking or using marijuana.
“One of the reasons we did this is because we were getting a lot of questions about whether or not there were differences in use patterns between youth in urban and rural environments and there wasn’t a lot of data,”  Dr. Matthew Young, senior research and policy analyst with CCSA and co-author of the report told the Source from his Ottawa, Ont. office.
“We didn’t have a lot, especially in Canada, regarding whether or not there were differences, so we did this study and now we have a bit more insight into that.”
The report was made using a number of different surveys conducted by the Student Drug Use Survey Working Group, an Ottawa enterprise that works to address issues related to substance use and abuse that affect the health and safety of Canadians.
Young said CCSA had contributors analyze their own surveys, which gave them information gained across the country from sources like the British Columbia Health Survey, Alberta Youth Smoking Survey and other data collected from similar surveys in Manitoba, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. 
Though the researchers didn’t know what to expect, Young said they weren’t exactly surprised by some of the results, one of which indicated rural students were more likely to report driving after using alcohol or cannabis.
“I didn’t think that was surprising; urban environments generally tend to have better public transportation, so that may be something that’s a contributing factor,” Young said, but admitted he was only speculating. 
“We weren’t quite sure what to expect, I mean there is a kind of a perception that some people have that urban students may be likely to use drugs, and so it was interesting to find out through this study that is not the case.
“There’s really no difference in the probability of which students going to a rural school are going to use drugs, as opposed to going to a school in an urban environment.”
So while rural students were more likely to admit to binge drinking and impaired driving, the use of marijuana and other illicit drugs was inconsistent among surveys.
Prescription drug misuse also didn’t change much within the surveys’ answers.
Though not backed by a formal study, numbers provided to The Source from Saskatchewan Government Insurance, showing the number of impaired driving collisions caused by underage drivers, seem to compliment Young’s findings.
During the year of 2014 there were five collisions caused by impaired underage drivers on urban roads, resulting in a total of 18 injuries and no fatalities.
Numbers for the same year show that seven collisions were caused on rural roads by impaired drivers under the age of 19, causing 20 injuries and one fatality.
Young said because of the report’s results, those working in youth drug prevention in rural areas might keep a closer eye and highlight issues involving alcohol, because that’s one of the things the results suggest is more common in rural settings.

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