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Study: Rural New Hampshire Youth Struggle With Substance Abuse, Unemployment

Youth in rural New Hampshire have high educational aspirations, but they also abuse substances at a higher than average rate and lack job opportunities, according to a new report.

The University of New Hampshire's Carsey School of Public Policy released the report, "Key Findings and Recommendations from the Coös Youth Study," which presents the findings from the first half of a ten-year study. Researchers examined several aspects of life for youth in Coös County, including the aspirations, community perceptions, and substance use of youth. More than 20 percent of children under 18 live in poverty in the county, which is located in northern New Hampshire.

The study found that most participants in the county believe they will graduate from high school and college, but also believe that staying in the area will limit their ability to find and keep jobs. When the county's graduating class of 2009 was asked if it was easy to find jobs, 67 percent said yes a year before graduating. By 2011, that percentage dropped to 19 percent.

The report also found that young adults from Coös County have more symptoms of depression and substance abuse than youth in other rural areas. Boys in the county are twice as likely to use marijuana three times a week than boys in other rural areas.

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The authors of the study provided several recommendations to improve outcomes for youth in Coös County, including increasing and promoting mentorship programs, improving job training initiatives, and providing mental health and substance use interventions that encompass both prevention and treatment. 

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