Some 30 percent of students at Evanston Township High School told surveyors that they had used marijuana within the previous 30 days, and the school has implemented a program to lower that figure.
Members of the ETHS District 202 School Board, at their meeting Tuesday night, were told of the Student Assistance Program designed to educate students about the risks of using marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol.
Board members were not convinced that respondents to the survey were always telling the truth about substance use, but they recognized that the problem could be serious and urged the administration to continue efforts to curb substance abuse.
The presentation was led by Anna Landmeier, the school’s student assistance program social worker, who said that the 30 percent figure for marijuana compares with 43 percent for alcohol use and 7 percent for cigarettes.
They emphasized that these numbers were not unique to Evanston, and that, in fact, some western suburbs had reported disturbing usage figures for heroin, which was not considered a serious problem in Evanston.
In an accompanying memo, Landmeier wrote that “one if the primary goals of substance abuse prevention work is to delay the first time use of alcohol or other drugs as well as decrease the chances of developing an addiction to these substances.”
She said that adolescents who drink alcohol “are more likely to experience a number of negative consequences, such as physical or sexual assault, unintentional injuries, memory problems, legal problems, and impaired school performance.”
Board members noted that, nationwide, marijuana use has increased as a byproduct of newly enacted laws in some states that permit medical and/or recreational use of the drug.
ETHS works with local community groups, such as PEER Services and the Evanston Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, and school officials advise parents that their use of marijuana may have a significant “role model” effect on their teenage students.