COVID-19 Updates
Home News Risky Behaviors on the Decline among New Mexico High School Students
Kenny Vigil
505-841-5871 Office
505-470-2290 Mobile

Risky Behaviors on the Decline among New Mexico High School Students

Department of Health Releases 2014 Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey Results

The New Mexico Department of Health announced today that rates for several important risk behaviors have fallen dramatically among New Mexico high school students. The information is based on results from the 2013 New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey (YRRS), a joint project of the New Mexico Department of Health and New Mexico Public Education Department.

Binge drinking (consuming five or more alcoholic drinks on a single occasion in the past 30 days) has fallen by half in the last ten years, from 35.4% in 2003 to 17.1% in 2013. Current cigarette smoking (smoking cigarettes on at least one of the past 30 days) dropped to 14.4% in 2013 from 30.2% in 2003. The rate for being in a physical fight in the past 12 months fell to 27.2% in 2013 from 38.9% in 2003.

"It’s encouraging to see that fewer high school students are binge drinking and smoking," said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “We have to continue our efforts statewide to educate students on how these risky behaviors can impact their health now and later in life.”

Other trends among high school students include:

  • Carrying a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club on school property fell to 5.4% from 10.9% in 2003;
  • Current cigar smoking, including small flavored cigars, fell to 12.3% from 19.4% in 2003;
  • Drinking and driving fell to 8.9% from 19.1% in 2003; and
  • Using painkillers to get high in the past 30 days fell to 8.5% from 14.2% in 2009.

While most of the behaviors measured in the survey showed improving trends, this was not universally true.

  • Use of a hookah, or large waterpipe, to smoke tobacco within the past 30 days, was reported by 21.9% of high school students in 2013. Hookah use was reported by 20.0% of students in 2011.
  • Most drug use rates have remained relatively stable over the past several years.

While new results from the 2013 YRRS are beginning to be released, more detailed reports from the 2011 YRRS, the most recent previous survey, are newly available. These reports include in-depth information on tobacco use, alcohol use, drug use, and mental health risks, primarily suicidal ideation and attempts. These reports demonstrate the relationships between certain risk behaviors, and between risk behaviors and resiliency, or protective, factors. For example, students who have strong and nurturing relationships with their families or with teachers in their schools are far less likely than other students to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, take drugs, or attempt suicide.

The New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey is a tool to assess the health risk behaviors and resiliency factors of New Mexico high school and middle school students.

The New Mexico YRRS, was conducted in New Mexico public high schools during the fall of 2013, by the Department of Health and the Public Education Department, with assistance from the UNM Prevention Research Center. The YRRS is the New Mexico component of the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) designed and sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Comprehensive results from the 2013 High School YRRS are expected to be available in June 2014. The in-depth reports from the 2011 YRRS are available in the Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey section of our website and at

Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact Kenny Vigil at 505-841-5871 (Office) or 505-470-2290 (Mobile) with your questions.