Drug use among kids in Juvenile Hall at 19-year high

Narcotic drugs addicted.

SAN DIEGO — Drug use among young people booked into Juvenile Hall reached its highest rate since 2000, with 58 percent of those interviewed testing positive for an illicit substance last year, according to a report released Tuesday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

Fifty-five percent of 109 juveniles interviewed for the report tested positive for marijuana, also the highest rate since 2000, according to SANDAG data.

90 percent of individuals interviewed from detention facilities in 2018 reported trying marijuana, compared to 88 percent for alcohol and 71 percent for tobacco, according to the report. Overall, 96 percent of juveniles reported trying some kind of substance.

45 percent of respondents also said marijuana was the first substance they had tried, compared to 43 percent for alcohol.

Overall, those who had used marijuana, alcohol and tobacco reported getting started at or before age 13, on average.

When asked to rank how harmful they thought specific drugs were on a four-point scale, 11 percent of respondents said marijuana was “very bad” or “extremely bad.”

Thirty-three and 60 percent of youths interviewed thought the same for alcohol and tobacco, respectively.

Among other findings:

— 91 percent of those interviewed said it was easy, or very easy, to obtain marijuana and 87 percent of those interviewed said the same about alcohol.

— 57 percent abused prescription or over-the-counter drugs last year, with 83 percent of those reporting that they had used tranquilizers, such as Xanax, and 56 percent saying they had tried codeine;

— 10 percent of interviewees tested positive for methamphetamine, down from 11 percent in 2017.

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