Anti-drug program comes to Kingman

KINGMAN - Potential volunteers will get a chance to learn more about working with youth struggling with alcohol and drug use during a new statewide program launching in Kingman next week.

The program, which will move on to Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City, is sponsored by Arizona Youth Partnership (AzYP), a nonprofit agency that tries to help rural youth and families choose healthier lifestyles. It will focus on illegal drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol, what youth need and how volunteers can work as a team.

"This program is to going to bring small bites of information and knowledge to participants," said Tammany McDaniel, director of community initiatives whose home office is in Kingman. "Many people want to do something to help, and the federal government is encouraging more of that at a grassroots level."

AzYP has four local volunteer coalitions, said McDaniel, and they are always seeking participants. But attending the sessions does not mean they are required to volunteer, and there will be no pressure on them to sign up.

Based on the results of the 2014 Arizona Youth Survey, McDaniel is offering five free sessions at the Kingman Regional Medical Center. They are titled "Drugs: True Stories," "Collaborative Leadership," "Rx360 - Adults," "Cost of Underage Drinking" and "What Youth Need."

The lunchtime sessions, which all take place from noon to 1 p.m., will include bottled water, a vegetable tray and cookies. Participants are encouraged to bring a bag containing their lunches.

For more information, contact McDaniel at (928) 692-5889 or tammany@azyp.org.

"Drugs: True Stories" takes place June 8 in the hospital's Neal Room and will use true stories so participants can understand the dangers of misusing drugs. "Collaborative Leadership" is slated for June 11 at the hospital's Cerbat Room.

In that session, attendees will learn the elements of working together, despite differences in participation levels among the groups. "Rx360 - Adults" takes place June 22 in the Cerbat Room and will address the impact of prescription medicine abuse among youth.

"Cost of Underage Drinking" is scheduled June 24 in the hospital's Ocotilo Room and will break down the financial impact of drinking among youth. "What Youth Need" will take place at the Cerbat Room and allow participants to create posters about what they see as youths' needs.

The 2014 AzYP survey results, created by the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission every two years, tracked more than 48,000 students in eighth, 10th and 12th grades. It measured teen drug use and other risky behavior in each of the state's 15 counties by past 30-day and lifetime use.

According to the survey results, after alcohol, which remains the top drug among 10th and 12th graders in Arizona, marijuana is now the second most-used drug, surpassing tobacco, which came in second last year. A total of 32.4 percent of 10th graders and 44.7 percent of 12th graders reported using marijuana during their lifetime.

In Mohave County, marijuana use among 10th and 12th graders was higher than the state averages. A total of 38.9 percent of 10th graders and 52 percent of 12th graders reported using marijuana in their lifetime. Also, 15 percent of eighth graders admitted using marijuana at least once.

While alcohol is still the top substance of choice among Arizona students, its use statewide among all grade levels surveyed was down 33 percent, from 69 percent in 2002 to 46 percent in 2014. Students reported they mostly got it at a party or gave someone money to buy it for them.

In Mohave County, alcohol use also was higher than the state average, with 34.1 percent of eighth graders, 51.1 percent of 10th graders and 75.5 percent of 12th graders reporting they have used it in their lifetime.

Also, prescription drug use by Arizona youth is down, with 13 percent of students reporting it. But in Mohave County, prescription drug use remains higher than the state average, with 9.4 percent of eighth graders, 21.4 percent of 10th graders and 25.8 percent of 12th graders using at least once.

"I think this new program will help Mohave County and will give people a better idea of whether they want to volunteer for a coalition," said McDaniel. "Even if they don't volunteer, they'll learn important information. And any day that people can learn something is a good day."