The Cottonwood Valley Charter School Science Olympiad team at the Socorro City Council meeting. They will be competing at the national competition in May. They are two-time state champions.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain photos

Youth alcohol and e-cigarette use in Socorro County has declined, according to the Socorro County Community Survey and the Strategies for Success Student Survey.

Chris Rottman with the Socorro County Prevention Coalition presented the survey results to the Socorro City Council Tuesday night.

The Strategies for Success Student Survey is given to high school and middle school students in Socorro and Magdalena.

Since 2020, the middle and high school have seen decreases in e-cig, alcohol, marijuana and cigarette use. According to the survey, 5.8 percent of middle schoolers used alcohol in the last 30 days, 12.9 percent used marijuana and 15.3 percent used e-cigarettes. The middle school girls were more likely to report using all three substances than the boys.

At the high school level, 26.5 percent reported e-cigarette use in the past 30 days, 20.6 percent reported marijuana use, and 16.7 percent reported alcohol use. From 2020 to 2022, the percentage of marijuana use dropped from 28.6 percent to 20.6 percent, and alcohol use dropped from 26 percent to 16.7 percent.

The high school girls were more likely to report using e-cigarettes or marijuana, while the boys were more likely to report drinking. From 2016 to 2022, e-cigarette use at the high school peaked in 2018 at 49.3 percent.

Many of the kids identified social concerns and family perception as the reason they chose not to use substances, Rottman said, but they also identified reasons like wanting to keep good grades and play sports.

Socorro County Community Survey Highlights

  • A decrease in binge drinking in 2022, although not for 18 to 25-year-olds.
  • A decrease in providing alcohol to minors.
  • Perceptions that alcohol use hurts the community financially increased.
  • Perception of ease of teen access to alcohol in Socorro County decreased.

One troubling finding is that current drinking increased slightly from 51 percent to 53 percent. However, binge drinking has declined significantly since a 2017 peak, when 26 percent of all respondents reported binge drinking. The 2022 survey measured just 14 percent of respondents binge drinking.

“I know that the city council and mayor supported SCOPE for quite some time,  the juvenile justice board, this prevention organization that you’re in charge of, so there’s been a lot of work by a lot of adults in our community and our county to push this agenda to have students make the right decisions,” said Councilor Anton Salome.

“So, I really want to say thank you to the adults in those committees and to the city council, the mayor, and to the county commission for supporting that, because what I’m seeing is that these numbers are going down. Kids are making wise choices.”

The Lego League team speak during a Socorro City Council meeting to request a sponsorship for their team’s upcoming competition.

Youth Team Sponsorships

In a separate matter, the City Council approved $1,500 sponsorships for the Cottonwood Valley Charter School Science Olympiad Team and for the Lego League, both of which have upcoming out-of-state competitions.

There are six students on the Lego League team, and they will be competing in Massachusetts at an event against 96 other teams. The Lego League students build and program robots. Along with sponsors, the team also has a Go Fund Me and are holding fundraisers.

There are 16 students on the Science Olympiad, and the team has won the statewide competition for two years in a row. The May national championship competition is the event the Council is sponsoring the Science Olympiad team to attend.

“All of them, they work super hard and for some of them it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so if we can help them out, I’m all for it as well,” Councilor Michael Olguin said.

The funding would be considered advertising dollars, so it will come out of Lodger’s tax.

In other business, the Council approved a landfill tipping fee increase.

The next Council meeting will be Tuesday, April 4 at 6 p.m.