ROCKY RIVER, Ohio -- A study shows more than half of high school students in communities on the west side of Cleveland are already abusing drugs or alcohol.
That’s one of the sobering findings of a study detailed Wednesday night at a town hall meeting, held in Rocky River, on the risky behaviors of teens in the West Shore communities.
“I woke up in the back of the cop car with police doors closing behind me. I was kind of like, ‘Where am I? What’s going on?’ ” said Mark Seifert, 21.
Seifert said he was a once a near “A” student on the lacrosse team with a bright future, but his goals were no match for his drinking problem.
“It seems fun and it seems like a great time and it’s exhilarating, and you got the whole factor of doing illegal stuff at that age. It only leads to misery and bad places,” Seifert said.
His story may be all too common.
McKeon said the survey of 5,000 west side-area high school students showed:
53% have gone binge drinking the last month
66% smoked marijuana in last 30 days
56% have illegally used prescription pills to get high
Loren McKeon, of the McKeon Education Group, said they determined the numbers from analyzing three studies of people in more than 12 communities in suburbs west of Cleveland.
McKeon said the information for the studies was gathered in places that include focus groups, youth groups, churches, court diversion programs and schools.
“With the teens we treat at Recovery Resources, we’ve been seeing a lot of prescription drug abuse. A lot of the opiates like Percocet, Demerol, Vicodin,” Jennifer Tulli with Recovery Resources said, adding the pills are just a starting point.
“But what’s happening now is it’s cheaper to get heroin. It produces a similar high and it’s cheaper and easier to get,” Tulli said.
And the kids are starting young.
McKeon’s survey of middle school students in west-side communities showed 44% have drank alcohol with their friends.
“I was 12 years old when I first drank,” Seifert said. He never used heroin, but his drinking did him in.
At age 20, after several arrests, a judge sent Seifert to treatment.
“For the six months that I’ve been sober, life’s been great. I actually have a job, some responsibility, gaining some trust back with my parents,” Seifert said.