You know your kids. You’ve tried to give them the right messages about the risks of drugs and alcohol. But as children move into adolescence, parents cannot afford to let their guard down. A new national study by The Partnership at Drugfree.org sounds an alarm, indicating rates of teen drug and alcohol use are heading in the wrong direction.
The 22nd Annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey (PATS) revealed noticeable increases in teen use of ecstasy and marijuana over the past three years, and that alcohol use among even young teens has become increasingly normalized. Ten percent of teens reported using ecstasy over the past year, as compared to six percent in 2008, and reported marijuana use increased from 32 percent of teens to 39 percent. Rates of prescription drug abuse have remained steady. Perhaps more alarmingly, the data indicates teens are increasingly cavalier about alcohol use. Of teens reported drinking alcohol, 62 percent claimed to have had their first drink before age 15. And teens are likely to view drinking — even heavy drinking — as less risky than using other substances.
It’s easy for parents to feel helpless. The survey also found nearly a third of parents feel they can do little to keep their children from trying alcohol. But once you’re aware of the risks, the solution is the same as it always has been. Be engaged in your teen’s life, know who their friends are and lead by example. See more information on the PATS at www.drugfree.org