Info reveals area youth drinking by age 13

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Socorro youth have easy access to alcohol and many kids are starting to drink around ages 13 or 14, according to Pat Lincoln, local evaluator for the Socorro County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.

This was just some of the information Lincoln and project coordinator Savannah Morris presented to Socorro city council at its regular meeting Tuesday night. The coalition has just wrapped up a series of focus groups, interviews and school surveys.

“Alcohol is easy to get from home or friends and siblings. It’s not uncommon for younger girls to date older males because they can get it for them,” Lincoln said.

The coalition is entering the planning phase and gathering input. By January it hopes to implement necessary interventions to tackle the troublesome issues, Morris said.

Regarding underage drinking, most kids surveyed said they didn’t worry about getting caught, Lincoln said.

“If they do get caught, they think it’ll be a slap on the hand,” she added.

There’s still lot of drinking going on in the home or someone else’s home, according to Lincoln. Parents believe it’s safer if kids are drinking are at home, so they allow that, she said.

“It’s not a very good message to send,” Lincoln added.

Ages 13 and 14 is also when kids are starting to use prescription drugs, survey information revealed. Often times kids will take pills and mix them with cough syrup or alcohol; whatever is available to get high, Lincoln mentioned.

“They don’t have a very strong sense of the danger of doing that,” Lincoln said. “We know that they perceive it as easy to get.”

Surveys and interviews discovered that kids are taking prescriptions from their grandparents’ and parents’ medicine cabinets. There are also some dealers targeting and selling prescription drugs to kids, according to Lincoln.

“Kids can tell you what it costs by how many and what dosage,” Lincoln said. “There also is an emerging problem with heroin.”

There are a few hot spots in the county in terms of illicit drugs, including Magdalena and Veguita, Lincoln said.

An issue showing up in the high school, according to Lincoln, is a concentrated oil-based form of marijuana. It’s called “waxing” or “dabs.” The use carries a danger with it, because it’s impossible to know what concentration is and what affect it might have on a person,” Lincoln said.

“It’s hard for a school resource officer or teacher to detect it because it’s put on the skin,” she added. “They’re always looking for new things. That’s a challenge. That’s always a challenge with youth. The good news is when we talk about youth and these things we’re seeing, if you look at the statistics, it’s not all kids that are doing it.”

Survey information taken from older students in college reveal that substance abuse patterns slightly change for the better, according to Lincoln. Young adults aren’t using drugs as much.

“They seem to develop more knowledge about dangers and the risks, so their usage tends to reduce,” Lincoln said. “They’re not getting off drugs completely, but changing consumption patterns.”

The data gathered by the coalition will soon be available on the City of Socorro website, Lincoln added.