Youth reported substance abuse behaviors

Updated 8/20/18

No one likes to think about the youth in Washoe County engaging in risky behaviors, especially as serious as methamphetamine abuse. Yet, young people do take chances, and Washoe County is no different than other cities.  The community must continue to address substance abuse treatment capacity for adults, children and families in order to reduce potentially negative health outcomes from risky behaviors.

WCSD high school students reporting in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) that they rode in a car or other vehicle driven by a someone who had been drinking alcohol 30 days prior to the survey has dropped since 2009 and continues to be below the Healthy People 2020 target less than 22.5%. Unfortunately, binge drinking on one or more days in the month before the survey, continues above the Healthy People target of less than 8.5%, even with the 2017 question change.  Tobacco use remains below targets.

Following the alarming 2009 YRBS results, TMT worked with the WCSD to initiate a 2010 community partners task force to undertake education, intervention and prevention activities directed at reversing earlier trends. Over 25 organizations participated in the task force and worked to launch a community education campaign including Nevada students.  Student newspaper staffs were recruited, provided with all the YRBS data and information, and encouraged to creatively explore and propose solutions to the trends (also including risky suicide and substance abuse behaviors).  A “Stop Youth Risk Behavior” Day was also initiated for the Nevada Legislature.  Since 2009, subsequent surveys continue to indicate trends moving in a more positive direction.


  • YRBS is conducted in odd-number years; not all questions are asked in every survey year; questions may also change
  • WCSD middle school students were not surveyed in 2013
  • *Usually obtained their own cigarettes by buying them in a store or gas station, among students who currently smoked cigarettes and were < 18 years of age
  • **Binge number of drinks changed in 2017 & should not be compared to earlier surveys
  • ***2017 survey question changed & should not be compared to previous surveys


Washoe County School District, Youth Risk Behavior Survey

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