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More Snohomish County students making smarter, healthier choices

Healthy Youth Survey shows gains and losses regarding substance use

More Snohomish County students making smarter, healthier choices

Healthy Youth Survey shows gains and losses regarding substance use


SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – In the first of set of data released from the 2016 Healthy Youth Survey, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services focused on results surrounding youth substance abuse. Thirteen of the school districts in Snohomish County participated in the surveys distributed last October, adding up to 14,630 sixth, eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders whose answers shed some light around the health of our youth.

The Healthy Youth Survey is completed every two years and asks a variety of questions about substance use, safety behaviors, diet, physical and mental well-being, and school atmosphere. Analyzing the data compared to 2014 shows some promising improvements, particularly when it comes to binge drinking and smoking traditional cigarettes.


  • Current use among Snohomish County teens dropped 39% since 2006
  • Use at an all-time low, 18.6% of tenth graders reporting use in the last month compared to 34.1% in 2002
  • Snohomish County tenth graders were significantly more likely than peers statewide to find binge drinking to be a “great risk” of harm—60.7% locally compared to 55.0% across Washington
  • Tenth graders less likely to participate in “problem drinking” behaviors (3-5 days of alcohol consumption in the last month and/or one binge episode in the last 2 weeks)


  • Use among youth in the state remains constant, despite changes in legalization
  • Use by tenth graders down from 16% in 2014 to 15.5% in 2016.
  • Nearly 1 out of 4 seniors believe it is “very wrong” for someone their age to be using marijuana (28.3%)
  • The number of seniors who said it would be “very hard” to get marijuana if they wanted to significantly increased, from 14.8% in 2014 to 20.6% in 2016.

Tobacco and Vaping:

  • Hookah use declined significantly in the state and county across all grades surveyed
  • Vapor and e-cigarette use decreased significantly among 10th graders between 2014 and 2016
  • Nearly twice as many 10th graders are vaping than smoking cigarettes; 11.3% reported vaping compared to 6.7% who reported using cigarettes
  • In 2016, 20.2% of 12th graders reported use of a vape product in the past month

Other Drugs:

  • Significantly fewer 12th graders reported ever using heroin in 2016 (3.2%) than in 2014 (5.7%)
  • Snohomish County eighth grade students reported ever trying meth at lower numbers compared to the state average, 2.1% locally compared to 2.9% statewide
  • Since 2006, both current painkiller abuse by tenth graders and twelfth graders have decreased by at least half, 10.6% down to 4% for sophomores and 13.6% down to 5% for seniors.

Data from the Healthy Youth Survey is used by the Snohomish Health District to direct prevention efforts. Current programs include youth tobacco and marijuana prevention, which involves educating middle and high school students, working with schools on curriculum and discipline policies, and increasing community awareness and knowledge. Staff also advocate for policy changes such as smoke and vape-free parks and distance between marijuana retailers. Efforts have included a vaping prevention campaign on Community Transit buses and current ads for Washington State Department of Health’s “Listen 2 Your Selfie” marijuana prevention campaign running prior to movies at the Regal Alderwood Stadium 7 theater in Lynnwood. 

The Snohomish Health District has prepared facts sheets on these topics. Each one features the most relevant questions and data for students in our county, as well as suggestions for what parents, schools, community groups, and government leaders can do moving forward. The fact sheets can be found by visiting   

Additional data for topics related to schools and community environment; depression and suicide; and physical activity, obesity, healthy eating and screen time will be released later this spring. For more information on statewide Healthy Youth Survey data, visit