Teen alcohol use being considered gateway to opiate, hard drug use

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While opiates remain a dire problem for Logan County’s adults, the desire to resist the highly addictive narcotic remains strong in teenagers, a co-chair of the Logan County Community Coalition for Opiate Relief Efforts reported.

The problem is, that use of alcohol — the most common gateway drug to other drugs of abuse — is alarmingly high, Tammy Nicholl said at the Wednesday evening quarterly update of the group of professionals and volunteers that has assembled to combat the local drug problem.

About 40 percent of local teenagers surveyed report drinking at concerning quantity or frequency within the prior month, according to Ms. Nicholl, who is also service director of the Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Services Board of Logan and Champaign County.

“We are not seeing a large number of kids using opiates and heroin,” she said, estimating the number of high school users between 2 and 4 percent. “They still see it as a very dangerous drug and say they have no intention of doing it. Alcohol is a whole different story, though.”

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