Colorado Department of Health shows drop in youth drug and alcohol use – CBS Denver

DENVER (CBS4)– The Healthy Kids Colorado survey shows that more young people have a harder time accessing drugs and alcohol, which means they use less. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said more than 100,000 young people responded to the voluntary survey.

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“Unsurprisingly, the data indicates that young people have struggled during the pandemic, like all of us,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of CDPHE in a statement. “But, there are many positives, including reduced substance use and perceived access to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Importantly, the survey highlights the need to support and increase protective factors for youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth.

Important key findings from the 2021 statewide high school results include:
• 40% of young people have experienced feelings of depression in the past year, up from 35% since the last Healthy Kids Colorado Survey in 2019.
• 51% of young people felt everyday stress more often during the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Percentages of youth who currently use substances have decreased, including alcohol (24%, down from 30%), marijuana (13%, down from 21%), cigarettes (3 %, down from 6%), electronic vaping products (16%, down from 26%), and non-prescription prescription pain relievers (6%, down from 7%).
• Young people find it more difficult to access substances such as alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes, electronic vaping products and other drugs than in previous survey years.
• Youth reported an increased perceived risk of harm from everyday substance use.

Health officials said there are disparities between young people of color and LGBTQ+ youth in the state.

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While the percentage of young people who have seriously considered (17%), planned (13%) and attempted suicide (7%) in the past year has not changed since 2015, disaggregated data from Healthy Kids Colorado 2021 survey show:
• 23% of genderqueer/non-binary youth have attempted suicide in the past year, compared to 8% of their female peers and 4% of their male peers.
• 20% of bisexual youth, 18% of gay/lesbian youth and 11% of asexual youth have attempted suicide in the past year, compared to 4% of their heterosexual peers.
• 26% of transgender youth have attempted suicide in the past year, compared to 7% of their cisgender peers.
• 10% of multiracial youth have attempted suicide in the past year, compared to 7% of their white peers.

While the percentage of young people who have been exposed to second-hand smoke or vapors at home in the past week has increased from 19% in 2019 to 16% in 2021, the disaggregated data reveals that:
• 23% of genderqueer/non-binary youth have been exposed to second-hand smoke or steam at home in the past week, compared to 16% of their female peers and 14% of their male peers.
• 24% of bisexual youth, 22% of gay/lesbian youth and 20% of asexual youth had been exposed to second-hand smoke or steam at home in the past week, compared to 14% of their heterosexual peers.
• 27% of transgender youth have been exposed to second-hand smoke or steam at home in the past week, compared to 16% of their cisgender peers.

While the percentage of young people who experienced hunger in the last 30 days due to a lack of food at home increased from 15% in 2019 to 12% in 2021, the disaggregated data reveals that:
• 18% of genderqueer/non-binary youth have been hungry in the past 30 days, compared to 12% of their female and male peers.
• 18% of gay/lesbian youth have been hungry in the last 30 days, compared to 11% of their heterosexual peers.
• 20% of youth unsure of their transgender status have been hungry in the past 30 days, compared to 12% of their cisgender peers.
• 24% of Black/African American youth, 20% of Native American/Alaskan youth, and 15% of Hispanic/Latino/a/x and multiracial youth experienced hunger in the past 30 days, against 10% of their white peers.

Similarly, 65% of young people feel they belong at their school (a new question in 2021), but the disaggregated data reveals that:
• 37% of genderqueer/non-binary youth feel they belong at their school, compared to 63% of their female peers and 69% of their male peers.
• 49% of bisexual youth, 48% of gay/lesbian youth, 48% of asexual youth felt they belonged at their school, compared to 71% of their heterosexual peers.
• 38% of transgender youth feel they belong at their school, compared to 66% of their cisgender peers.
• 61% of Hispanic/Latino/a/x and multiracial youth feel like they belong at their school, compared to 68% of their white peers.

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