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Informing the generations on drugs and alcohol

There seems to be a disconnect between parents and their children in regards to their views toward drugs and alcohol.

At least that's what the results of a recent survey conducted by Community Action and the Southwest Coalition for Safe Communities shows.

"We wanted to see if kids and adults were on the same page," Becky Byzewski, coordinator of safe communities prevention for Community Action, said during a meeting at the Dickinson Trinity High School Auditorium Thursday.

And the differences in perception are abundantly clear, Byzewski said.

For example, the study found that 98 percent of parents believe the use of tobacco by those under the age of 18 is wrong, compared to only 90 percent of youth.

"There's kind of a disconnect there," said Deb Nelson, president of DLN Contracting, which analyzed the survey results. "Somewhere in there, eight percent of the kids aren't getting that message."

The survey, conducted last year, included responses from 2,410 youth and 446 adults. The study looked at the perceptions of risk, actual risks and attitudes of both adults and youth toward the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

Byzewski said by studying perceptions regarding drugs and alcohol it can help facilitate the development of programs which parents can use to help prevent drug and alcohol abuse.

Other areas where youth and adults didn't matchup were in frequency of binge drinking and perceptions of marijuana risk.

In the 30 days prior to the survey, 74 percent of adults and 27 percent of youth used alcohol. However, 5 percent of those adults admitted to binge drinking (five or more drinks in one sitting) compared to 34 percent of youth.

"Maybe fewer kids are drinking, but those that are drinking are drinking a lot," Byzewski said.

One area where youth have gotten the message is in regards to drinking and driving.

Nelson said youth use designated drivers, while adults still have a greater tendency to drink and drive.

"Youth use designated drivers," Nelson said. "They got the message. Adults haven't quite got it yet."

In regards to illicit drugs, 25 percent of youth believe there is no risk of marijuana use by youth and 29 percent believe there is no risk of other drug use. Ninety-four percent of adults on the other hand believe there is a risk of both.

"We wanted to see if kids and adults were on the same page. And what we found out, as you can see from some of the data, is in many cases, they are not," Nelson said. "We didn't know what the real story was."

Byzewski and Nelson plan to share the results of the study with groups throughout southwestern North Dakota. Meetings are planned for Beach, Belfield, Bowman, Hettinger, Killdeer, Richardton and possibly another in Dickinson.

Nelson said it's important to get the information out there so adults know that the message isn't always getting through.

"We already know that there's a big disconnect between what kids and parents think and know," Byzewski said. "And so our hope in this is that we were going to draw these families and develop some discussions so they can talk about it."

Visit to view the survey.