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  • Writer's picturePRC 9

Findings from the 2018 RNA

The 2018 Regional Needs Assessment was published on July 27, 2018. Below is a summarizing excerpt from the concluding statements:

“Upon reading the 2018 Region 9 Regional Needs Assessment, one can conclude that underage drinking, marijuana use, and the abuse of prescription drugs are among the leading substance use issues in the Permian Basin. Since Region 9 serves a vast array of populations, not only in geographical location but also population size and varying demographics, it is important to take into consideration that certain counties of Region 9 might not have as significant of problems as other counties do.
Region 9 has a booming oil field. The impacts of this volatile industry on Region 9 are multitudinous. Region 9 heavily relies on the success of the oil field and when it is doing well, an innumerable amount of people moves to the region. These population changes bring with them various cultures, health practices, job growth, and more. It is difficult to calculate the influx of people in a time like this, much less the exact impact they have during their transient time here concerning substance use.
Accordingly, unemployment rates are low in Region 9. Only 7 out of the 30 counties in Region 9 are above the Texas average unemployment rate, none by more than 0.8%. However, Region 9 has higher rates of all criminal charges (non-AOD* misdemeanors, AOD* misdemeanors, and felonies) than the state of Texas.
Additionally, teen birth rates in Region 9 are high. Nearly every county in Region 9 has teen birth rates higher than the Texas average and all counties in Region 9 have teen birth rates higher than the national average. About 50% of Texas students that have had sex used some kind of substance before their most recent sexual encounter. About one-third of Region 9 households are led by single parents. However, adolescent sexual behavior has been declining since 2009.
Infants to 19-year-olds make up the largest portion of Region 9’s population (29%), followed closely by 20-39-year-olds (28%). Knowing that youth and young adulthood are primarily the stages when substance use disorders begin and when mental health issues are onset coupled with knowing that the majority of Region 9 is in one of these developmental stages, there is great opportunity for prevention efforts for both substance use and mental disorders.
Drawing back to environmental risk factors and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), data in this RNA reports on the home, school, and community environments in Region 9 which affect one’s likelihood of future substance abuse. The more ACEs a child experiences, the more likely he or she is to develop a substance abuse disorder, along with a multitude of other negative health outcomes. Below is a summary of the data reported in Region 9 concerning some ACEs:
  • Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, intimate partner violence, and a violently treated mother: Region 9 has a misdemeanor family violence assault rate of 1.5, which is higher than the Texas average of 1.3 family violence assaults/1,000 population. Region 9 has a lower felony rate of adult sexual assault than the Texas average in 2017. However, compared to the state, Region 9 has 1.6 times the felony rate of cases of indecency with/sexual assault of children.

  • Substance abuse in the home: Region 9 had 1.8 times the rate of AOD* misdemeanors compared to Texas in 2017. Accordingly, Region 9 also had 1.3 times the rate of first offense DWIs, 2.7 times the rate of second offense DWIs, 2 times the rate of marijuana possession misdemeanors, and 1.8 times the rate of other drug offenses compared to the Texas average in 2017.

  • Having an incarcerated household member: Region 9 had a felony rate 1.3 times higher than the Texas rate in 2017.

  • Mental illness in the home: There is a concerning lack of data in this field. Data on mental health hospital discharges has not been reported since 2012, but at that time both Midland and Ector counties (the two most populated communities in Region 9) had higher mean costs for mental disease and disorder discharges than the state average. Suicides in Region 9 increased at nearly 3 times the Texas rate from 2014-2015. Additionally, Region 9 has five mental health service centers and access to these services is challenging to many in Region 9 due to distance, affordability, and lack of availability.

  • Physical/emotional neglect: Less than half of students in Midland ISD reported that they can talk to their parents about anything. However, two-thirds of Midland ISD students reported they eat dinner with adults every day. Only one-third of Midland ISD students reported that they discuss daily events with adults every day, though. There is no other data concerning home attention or family time in Region 9 – yet, another gap in data.

Furthermore, there are other environmental risk factors for substance abuse. This RNA reported on social acceptance/perception of harm, ease of accessibility, and consumption rates. Findings include:
  • Social acceptance/perception of harm: There is a recognizable gap between parental perception of drugs and student perception. Regions 9 & 10 students reported at high rates that their parents believe alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are dangerous for them to use, but less students reported that they, themselves, believe these drugs are dangerous to use. The drug with the largest gap between parental perception and student perception of danger was marijuana. According to Regions 9 & 10 students, parents approve of marijuana more than they do alcohol. Twelve percent of Regions 9 & 10 students also believe it is not dangerous at all to use marijuana, as opposed to only 2.6% of these students believing alcohol is not dangerous at all to use. Deviances in marijuana approval may be a reflection of the ongoing discussion and misconceptions of cannabis benefits. However, a higher percentage of students in Regions 9 & 10 believe it is dangerous to use marijuana compared to the Texas average. In general, Regions 9 & 10 students have a lower perception of harm of alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco the older they are. More students are unsure of the harms of prescription drug misuse than the harms of using alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco and the perceived risk of harm from prescription drug misuse stays relatively stable over grade levels, unlike with alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.

  • Accessibility: Region 9 has high alcohol retail permit densities and also contains the top two cities in Texas for drunk driving fatalities. Regions 9 & 10 youth reported 13% higher than the Texas average that marijuana is easy to obtain. Regions 9 & 10 students perceive that marijuana and tobacco are equally easy to obtain, with alcohol being even more accessible. Inhalants are the fourth leading drug for ease of access in Regions 9 & 10 after alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. Regions 9 & 10 students report that they mostly get their alcohol supply from parties. However, over 80% of Regions 9 & 10 students report that marijuana and other drugs are seldomly or never at parties or that they do not attend those parties.

  • Consumption: Though the leading drug choices of youth in Regions 9 & 10 seem to be alcohol, marijuana, and the misuse of prescription drugs, amphetamines are the most highly screened drugs in adults. Accordingly, methamphetamine is said to be one of the most common drugs of choice for adults in Region 9. The age of initiation in Regions 9 & 10 is 12.9 years for alcohol, 13.6 years for marijuana, and 13.1 years for tobacco. As perception of harm for any given substance decreased, consumption increased. Regions 9 & 10 students answered higher than any other region in Texas that some or all of their friends use alcohol. Accordingly, Regions 9 & 10 have the most high-risk and school-year users of alcohol. Regions 9 & 10 students also rank highest in the state for current, school-year, and lifetime use of marijuana. And, concerning tobacco use, Regions 9 & 10 students reported higher percentages than the state for past month, school year, and lifetime use.

The majority of on-campus ATOD violations in Region 9 occur for controlled substances/drugs, followed by tobacco violations, then alcohol violations. On-campus alcohol violations have increased in Region 9 since 2013 while on-campus tobacco violations have seen a declining trend.
Furthermore, alcohol and drug-induced deaths are an evident issue in Region 9. Here, there are about 1.5 times the rate of alcohol and drug-induced deaths than that of the state. These include car crashes, chronic disease development from substance use, overdosing, etc.
About 85% of drug overdoses nationally in 2016 were from opioids. Texas Poison Center Calls reflect the same in 2017, in which most of Region 9 calls were for commonly prescribed opioids. This brings attention to the opioid crisis happening in the Permian Basin.”

*AOD: Alcohol and Other Drugs

More context to this data, including county-specific data, can be found in the 2018 Regional Needs Assessment here:

Please contact the Region 9 PRC Regional Evaluator, Kayla Fishbeck, with any questions or for more information.

Kayla Fishbeck

(432) 333-4100 ext. 203



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