TWIN FALLS • About 35 percent of Idaho high school students surveyed last year reported using marijuana at least once.
And nearly 19 percent — about one in five students — said they used the illegal drug within the past 30 days. That’s up by about 5 percent over 2009.
Those statistics are included in the 2011 Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey, released earlier this month by the Idaho State Department of Education.
Kim Dopson, clinical director for Pro Active Advantage in Twin Falls, said some teenagers say marijuana is more accessible to them than alcohol.
“It is becoming dangerously prevalent,” she said.
Pro Active Advantage provides a variety of health services, including substance abuse treatment for adults and teens through locations in Gooding, Twin Falls and Burley.
Dopson said some teens are experimenting with marijuana, but it may be difficult for parents to know which behavioral signs to look for.
“The more information they get, the better they can respond to kids’ needs,” she said.
More than 1,700 students participated in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey last spring at 48 randomly selected public high schools around Idaho. The locations of the schools weren’t released.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed the survey, which covers categories such as injuries, tobacco use, drug and alcohol use, sexual behaviors that result in sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies, dietary behaviors, and physical activity.
State and local education officials weren’t available to comment on survey results Monday due to the Presidents Day holiday.
Under the drug use section, Idaho students surveyed reported using marijuana more than other illegal drugs.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
About 3 percent of students surveyed said they’d used heroin at least once, while 7 percent have used cocaine, 3 percent have used methamphetamine and 9 percent have used ecstasy.
Ron Jones, a licensed clinical professional counselor for Positive Connections in Twin Falls, said many teenagers experiment with alcohol or drugs.
“What concerns me is the statistic of adolescents who need treatment but aren’t getting it,” he said.
More than 5 percent of Idaho teenagers — between ages 12 and 17 — need treatment for drug use but don’t receive it, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.
Positive Connections stopped providing drug and alcohol treatment about three months ago, Jones said, due to funding constraints.