As part of the North Dakota Partnership for Success Grant, Southwest District Health Unit conducts a youth risk behavioral study every year of students in grades 6-12 in the counties it serves (Stark, Dunn, Billings, Hettinger, Slope, Adams, Bowman and Golden Valley).

The survey covers perceptions and use of alcohol and prescription drugs. The 2019 study shows an increase in southwestern N.D. students reporting that they have used prescription drugs.

Specifically, the survey asks, “During the past 30 days, on how many days did you use prescription drugs that were not prescribed to you, or that you took only for the experience or feeling they caused?”

The percentage of southwestern N.D. students who answered that they had taken drugs in the last 30 days is at its highest since the question was first asked in the survey in 2017, and both responses went from being lower than the state average in 2017 to being higher than the state average in 2019.

Students reporting that they used prescription drugs 20 or more days in the past month increased from 1.03% in 2017 to 1.88% in 2019. The state average of students reporting 20 days or more of use was 1.08%. In 2019, it was 1.69%.

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Students who reported using prescription drugs between 10 and 19 days increased from 0.07% in 2017 to 0.88% in 2019. In 2017, the state average of students reporting 10-19 days of use was 0.21% in 2017 and 0.5% in 2019.

High school student reported use in 2019 (2.03%) was almost the same in southwestern North Dakota as the state average (2.04%). The middle school, however, reported higher use in 2019. The state average for middle schoolers was 1.24% while the average for southwestern N.D. was 1.7%.