As much as 40 percent of minors in Wisconsin have tried some form of drugs or alcohol, according to a survey published by the drug-advocacy group Rise Together.

The Aug. 31 survey looked into the drug usage of students from 20 counties across Wisconsin.

Anthony Alvarado, co-founder of Rise Together, said they received responses from 2,000 students from more than 50 different schools across Wisconsin.

The survey revealed that children as young as eight-years-old were using drugs, Alvarado said.

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In the survey, the typical age range of students using drugs, including synthetic opiates, heroin and meth were 13 to 15, Alvarado said. 

“I’ve seen students as young as 14 with track marks in their arms,” Alvarado said. “That’s not okay.”

According to the the survey, 90 percent of students have had experience with alcohol. Marijuana and prescription pills also have high percentages of use by students. Around 45 percent have experimented with marijuana and 15 percent have taken some type of pills.

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Many of the students surveyed showed signs of substance abuse disorders, which if left untreated can lead to addiction and ultimately death, Alvarado said.

Kevin Kane, Organizing Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, said addiction in college students can be prevented by providing education to middle and high-school students and speaking to them about their experiences.

Kane said colleges across Wisconsin need to prioritize prevention of drug abuse to protect young adults from developing substance addictions.

“We believe that if the state put effort into colleges, we would have a huge impact on alcohol, tobacco and prescription drug use,” Kane said.  

The student survey was collected online in the middle and high schools after they participated in an educational seminar put together by Rise Together, Alvarado said.

Prevention is the key to improving the addiction epidemic that is spreading across Wisconsin, Alvarado said.