Sara Swanson

MHS students overestimate number of peers doing drugs – SRSLY Manchester begins campaign to change misconceptions

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Photo courtesy of SRSLY Manchester.

The SRSLY Manchester Coalition and Students Leading Students kicked off their third annual positive social norm campaign titled “Most Teens Don’t Use.” This campaign celebrates teens that are making healthy choices when it comes to prescription drugs, marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco. The positive social norms campaign is based on 2016 data from the Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth (MiPHY) survey that is given to Manchester High School and Middle School students every two years.

Based on the data collected in Manchester using the 2016 Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth survey (MiPHY), Manchester High School students overestimate drug and alcohol use among their classmates. In fact, 59% of MHS students overestimate how many students in their grade drink alcohol regularly and 45% of MHS students overestimate how many students in their grade use marijuana regularly. Students frequently estimate larger percentages of students regularly use alcohol and marijuana, when in fact, 19% of MHS students drink alcohol regularly and 11% of MHS students use marijuana regularly. Most Manchester teens don’t drink or use marijuana.

Since changing perceptions is the first step in changing behaviors, this campaign focuses on the positive – which is that MOST teens are making healthy choices related to alcohol and drugs. By correcting the mis-perception that most teens do drink and use drugs, teens feel less indirect pressure to use because they don’t believe that “everyone else is doing it.” And it is indirect pressure that students face, as opposed to direct pressure.

During the SRSLY Manchester youth focus groups, participants were unable to come up with a time that they had been directly pressured by friends to use drugs or alcohol. They shared that any pressure they experienced came indirectly, such as being around other people using and feeling like they do not want to be left out. In fact, during these focus groups and various conversations with Manchester youth, they shared that when they turned down an offer to use alcohol or drugs it was always treated as a non-issue. No one cared or seemed to notice. Students also reported that even their friends that do use alcohol and drugs support their decision not to use.

This campaign speaks directly to these youth by validating their decision not to use and helping them feel less under a spotlight as they continue to make healthy choices. Over the course of the rest of the school year, you can expect to see posters featuring data on MHS students’ Prescription Drugs, Marijuana, Alcohol, and Tobacco use. Youth members of SRSLY Manchester and SLS have also created a YouTube video – to watch, go to YouTube.com and search “Most Teens Don’t Use: Positive Social Norms Campaign SRSLY Manchester.”

The Positive Social Norms Campaign will run through the end of the current school year. In May and June, students will be encouraged to complete an online survey to evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign. The survey will be anonymous and confidential. Last year, students were surveyed after a similar campaign and 45% of survey respondents reporting that after seeing the information they felt less pressure to use alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and misuse/abuse prescription drugs.

If you have questions or are concerned by the data that this campaign is showing and would like to help reduce youth alcohol and substance use, contact Lindsay Hannah at 734-476-0686 or Lindsay@srslymanchester.org. More information about the Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth (MiPHY) Survey can be found at the Michigan Department of Education website at www.michigan.gov/miphy. To learn more about the SRSLY Manchester Coalition please visit www.srslymanchester.org.

Four of the posters you may see around the area. Photo courtesy of SRSLY Manchester.

 

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