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Alisha Sonner

Survey says Crawford only doing 'fair job' in battling substance abuse


January 30, 2008
Crawford County was the focus of a recent public opinion survey that found that the majority of respondents believed that the county was only doing a "fair" job of addressing substance abuse.

The survey, by Leigh Drake of Aranelle Consulting LLC., was sponsored by the Crawford County Council for a Drug-Free Community and took place from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30.

Several results of the survey were surprising and some were even shocking to many on the council.

"There's a few things in the survey that caught my eye," Jon Kuss, chairman of the council and director of programs with Hoosier Hills PACT. "One of the things in the survey that really jumped out at me was that 35 percent of respondents thought that 'several' adults in the area use drugs or drink with their children. That's really disturbing. It's not uncommon for that to happen, but it's certainly bothersome that it happens on that level."

The survey also produced some expected results, such as that 61 percent of those surveyed thought that "many" had tried cigarettes. It was also revealed that 28 percent thought that "many" had tried chewing tobacco. If all responses were combined (several-half-many), the survey indicated that 80 percent of those believed that youth had tried chewing tobacco.

"This survey was designed for Crawford County," Drake said, after completing the survey. "And there's certain parts of it that are really striking. For instance, 68 percent of respondents said they had experienced alcoholism or a drug addiction situation in their family. That's a high amount, and it's really a painful reminder of how big the problem is. It also gives the community an idea of what direction needs to be taken in order to reduce these numbers."

Another issue that caught Kuss' eye was that such a high number of those responding thought that "many" of the county's youth had tried marijuana.

"If you combine all of the responses, 80 percent thought that area young people had tried marijuana," he said. "That's a really high number, but that's the value of this survey. It actually puts a number to the things that we have always suspected."

The survey, however, indicated that harder drugs, like heroine, cocaine, methamphetamine, inhalants and club drugs, like ecstasy, are not popular with area youth. But other parts of the survey indicated that the use of beer, strong alcohol and painkillers is a problem.

"Prescription drugs are a growing problem here," said Becky Smith of the Crawford County Youth Service Bureau. "We're actually doing a lifeskills program on it now. We're showing the students films and educating them about the dangers of prescription drugs. We're trying to get ahead of it, but it is a major issue now."

The survey included responses from 117 people in Crawford County. There were 73 female respondents and 44 male respondents. The majority of respondents (42) were 25 and under. There were 19 respondents between the ages of 25 and 35. The rest were over 35, but only eight were 75 or older.

The top troubling issues for youth in Crawford County were tobacco use, drug use, alcohol use, sexual activity, teen pregnancy, under-age drinking, poverty, lack of jobs, nothing to do, domestic violence/child abuse, not enough options for entertainment and reckless driving.

The survey noted that reckless driving scored higher than operating while intoxicated or speeding on the issues list. The survey also noted that respondents aged 25 and under thought teen pregnancy a more troublesome issue than sexual activity, while adults primarily scored sexual activity as more troublesome than teen pregnancy.

More than 40 percent of respondents thought the community was doing a fair job of addressing abuse in the community, while only 18 percent thought it was doing a good job. The remainder didn't know or thought it was doing a poor job.

Except for Alcohol Anonymous and Narcotic Anonymous, most respondents thought it somewhat difficult or very difficult to obtain substance abuse treatment in the area.

"The whole idea of this survey is that it will help organizations and agencies in the county secure funding and help with grant applications, and to assist in the battle against substance abuse," Drake said. "We hope it will encourage discussions in classrooms about drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse. And we hope the information in the survey will be used by families, which will help create awareness of substance abuse problems."

"This should help the community recognize the abuse problem," Kuss said. "It's something we don't want to just sweep under the carpet."

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