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Summit County students report higher drug use than Utah average in 2023 SHARP Survey

The anonymous 2023 SHARP Survey results were released in October.
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The anonymous 2023 SHARP Survey results were released in October.

Students in Summit and Wasatch counties bucked statewide trends on questions of drug use, guns and school safety.

Statewide, the SHARP survey showed the biggest threats to young Utahns are lack of sleep, mental health issues and screen time.

Wasatch County students’ self-reported behaviors and attitudes that followed statewide trends, while Summit County students were outliers with higher reported drug use. Students from both counties also reported feeling safer at school than their peers did statewide.

Sixth, eighth, tenth and twelfth graders can participate in the Utah Student Health and Risk Prevention Survey. The survey is “opt-in,” meaning parents had to sign up their kids to take it.

In Summit County, students reported higher rates of marijuana, tobacco and hallucinogen use than other students in Utah. However, their reported drug use was lower than the national average.

Binge-drinking, especially among Summit County’s twelfth graders, far exceeded state and national averages.

Utah students tend to binge-drink less than their peers around the country. And across the board this year, including in Wasatch and Summit counties, students reported vaping less.

Here’s Heidi Dutson, from Utah’s Office of Substance Use and Mental Health, which conducts the sharp survey.

“The percentage of youth who use alcohol, chewing tobacco, cigarettes, prescription drugs, and other substances continues to decline. This is great news for Utah youth,” said Heidi Dutson from Utah’s Office of Substance Use and Mental Health, which conducts the SHARP survey.

Wasatch County twelfth graders were outliers when it came to gun-related questions. Over 25% of those surveyed said they’d carried a handgun one or more times in the past year, and they exceeded the state average in access to guns and ammunition.

However, just 51 Wasatch County seniors responded to the survey. Nearly 2,500 students are enrolled in grades 9 through 12 at the county’s only public high school.

Across the four grades that were surveyed, 577 Wasatch County students participated.

In Summit County, 1,020 students took the survey. Just over 2,000 high schoolers are in the county, with over half of those attending Park City High School.

Low participation rates could hamper officials’ ability to use the data to inform policy and programming.

“The numbers weren't as high as we'd like, but they never usually are with an assessment,” Summit County Health Director Phil Bondurant said. “But I still think there's valuable data in there that we can use to really help understand what our efforts might be over the next two years.”

Nearly 52,000 Utah students total participated in the survey.

Click here to view the 2023 Sharp Survey statewide report.
Click here to view the 2023 Sharp Survey Summit County report.
Click here to view the 2023 Sharp Survey Wasatch County report.