Margaret Black
OSU Prevention Programs

Every other year 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students, in Oklahoma, participate in the Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment (OPNA). This survey measures risk and protective factors for substance abuse. The findings from this survey help schools know the issues going on in their communities, let local prevention professionals know how to focus their efforts, and help schools and the community obtain grant funds to help reduce substance abuse. School systems who participate get individual school data, and countywide data is made available to other community groups. The most recent administration of the OPNA was 2014.
The OPNA surveys youth for use data on several different substances. In Region 9, which includes Okmulgee and Creek Counties, among 10th graders 33.8% reported using alcohol and 14.9% reported marijuana use in the past 30 days. These are both higher than the state average. Sixth and 8th graders in the region report misusing prescription pain pills at a higher average than the state. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), youth substance use leads to “increased risk for injuries, violence, HIV infection, and other diseases.”
Students who take the OPNA also answer questions about protective factors. These are positive areas in a youth’s life which have been shown to reduce the rate of youth substance abuse. One of these protective factors is parent disapproval of drug use. In Region 9, almost 90% of 6th graders, 70% of 8th graders, 55% of 10th graders, and 65% of 12th graders feel their parents strongly disapprove of drug use among youth. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states “research shows that parents are the leading influence on their child’s decisions about alcohol.” Alcohol is often considered a gateway drug where kids first start experimenting with substance abuse. It is important for parents and other important adults in a child’s life to have a consistent message of disapproval of youth drug use.
The OPNA will be given to local schools, who agree to participate, in the Spring of 2016. The Region 9 Regional Prevention Coordinator (RPC), funded by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) will be making contact with school administrators to discuss the importance of the data collected from the OPNA and to get schools signed up to receive the surveys. Please discuss the importance of the OPNA data and let your school administration know you would like for them to participate in taking the survey.