Good and bad in youth risk behavior report

Aug 16, 2012

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says while there is good news in the latest state youth behavior risk survey – there are some disturbing findings.

Stenehjem reviewed the findings with the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee – as part of a report on substance abuse and treatment. He told the Committee the survey showed reductions in tobacco and alcohol use among students 18 and younger.

However, "40 percent of students in grades seven and eight, and 57 percent of students in high school agree that in their community, drinking among teenagers is acceptable behavior," said Stenehjem. "Sixteen percent of high school students -- and this is a matter of grave concern -- have taken a prescription drug, such as oxycontin, percocet, Xanax, ritalin, without a doctor's prescription, one or more times in their life."

Stenehjem said often, those teens would steal the pills from medicine cabinets or dresser drawers. He also told the committee teen use of synthetic drugs has skyrocketed.

Stenehjem also says the "hub" for drug trafficking into North Dakota is moving closer to the state. He said the drugs used to come from Denver or Chicago -- and now the drugs come from Minneapolis.

"Most of the crack cocaine, heroin, meth is transported into Fargo-Moorhead from Minneapolis," Stenehjem said. "It's just a short drive, and street level dealers don't have to go far to meet their sources."

Stenehjem said law enforcement is trying to beef up to meet that new challenge.