Chicago Adults' Concerns about Youth Drug Use

October 28, 2019

October is National Substance Abuse Prevention month. In Chicago, drug use among youth has been a top concern among parents and adults in Chicago in both 2018 and 2019. In this report, we explore this issue in more depth. Researchers at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital teamed up with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) on the 2018-19 Healthy Chicago Survey, Jr. We asked adults whether they considered drug use a “big problem” facing Chicago youth, and if so, what drug they were most concerned about. We also asked adults questions about themselves and their families.

Report Highlights

  • Overall, people were most concerned about prescription drugs including narcotic painkillers, such as opioids.
  • Concerns about specific drugs differed by respondent race and ethnicity. Latinx respondents were most concerned about cocaine, Non-Latinx Black respondents were most concerned about marijuana, and Non-Latinx White respondents were most concerned about prescription drugs including narcotic painkillers.
  • Younger people were more concerned about prescription drugs than older people.

Download the Report PDF


Information You Can Use

What drugs were people most concerned about?

Overall, 61% of Chicago adults considered drug use a “big problem” facing youth.

When a person said they considered drug use a big problem for youth, we asked them what drug they were most concerned about. Respondents then selected one drug from four different options: cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and prescription drugs including narcotic painkillers. The drug that people were most concerned about for youth was prescription drugs (35%), followed by marijuana (29%), heroin (22%), and cocaine (15%) (Figure 1). Alcohol and tobacco products (e.g., cigarettes, e-cigarettes) were not included as drug categories.

Safe Kids provides tips for how to keep kids safe around prescription medication such as safe storage of medicine.

Illinois Poison Control is also a helpful resource for parents. The national poison control hotline is 1-800-222-1222.

October 26th was National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, when individuals can safely and anonymously turn in prescription drugs. There are also authorized year-round drop-off centers in Chicago.

Lurie Children’s Substance Use & Prevention Program in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine utilizes a multidisciplinary team to address the complex needs of those experiencing substance use disorders.

How did drug concerns differ among different groups?

We also explored concerns about specific drug types among people from different groups. For instance, people with higher income were more likely to be concerned about prescription drugs (46%) than people with lower household income (29%-32%). Younger people were more likely to be concerned about prescription drugs (40%) than older people (45+ years old, 27%).

Local and national helplines are available for individuals who may have a substance use disorder – in Illinois (1-833-2-FIND-HELP) and across the U.S. (1-800-662-HELP).

Individuals can receive training on how to recognize opioid overdose and respond by delivering naloxone (opioid overdose antidote).

Sesame Street recently introduced resources around family addiction to help children, families, and the providers who serve them.

About the survey

The sample consisted of 2,982 adults in Chicago, 740 of whom were the parent, step-parent, foster parent, or guardian (referred to here as parents) of at least one child under 18 years old living in the household. We asked parents about their own health and the health of their children. The survey cooperation rate was 12%. All analyses were conducted with statistical weighting so that they are representative of the adult population of the City of Chicago during the time period of data collection. For more information about health in your community, visit chicagohealthatlas.org.

Who We Are

Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP
Marie Heffernan, PhD
Tracie Smith, MPH
Anne Bendelow, MPH
Punreet Bhatti, MD

Contact Us

312.227.2436
voicesofchildhealth@luriechildrens.org

Press Release

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