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New Teen Substance Abuse Study Out: 1 in 2 Teens Are Using Drugs

By July 1, 2011

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Half, 50%, one in two - that's how many teens today are smoking, drinking or using drugs according to a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA). The findings, which are based on surveys of 1,000 high school students, 1,000 parents of high school students and 500 school officers, along with expert interviews, focus groups, a literature review of 2,000 scientific articles and an analysis of seven data sets:
  • The most common drug of choice among high school students in the U.S. is alcohol, followed by cigarettes and marijuana, followed by controlled prescription drugs.
  • 72.5% of high school students have drunk alcohol.
  • 46.3% of high school students have smoked cigarettes.
  • 36.8% of high school students have used marijuana.
  • 65.1% have of high school students have used more than one substance.
  • Nearly 21 percent of parents declared marijuana harmless.
Another fact that the study brought out and yet another reason why we want our teenagers to not use addictive substances: If you use an addictive substance before age 18 you are six times more likely to develop a substance use disorder than if you didn't start using until they were 21 or older.

The study is being called the most comprehensive look at teen substance use to date. I'd call it a real eye opener. Substance abuse leads to more deaths and serious health issues in teens than anything else. Yet, it is the most preventable when parents and the community of adults around teens take an active approach.

So, let's get that started here. I'm asking our parenting community: What do you do to keep your teen from smoking, off of drugs and not drinking alcohol? What has worked? What hasn't? Do you have a supportive community? Please share your advice in the comments area.

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Comments
July 1, 2011 at 8:16 am
(1) momma jean says:

Does anyone believe in saying ‘no’ anymore and really meaning it. Following up and calling? I know my son will look right at me and say he is doing one thing and thinks he is going to go do something else. But I call around to his friends parents and I’ll haul him home if I have too.

July 1, 2011 at 11:26 am
(2) J Smith says:

One of the biggest influences that contributes to the use of drugs/alcohol is the peer group that your kid hangs around with. If the kids that hang around have little parental guidance and are secretive about their whereabouts, there is a problem. Parents need to know what their kids are doing and where they are hanging out.

July 1, 2011 at 12:10 pm
(3) Bludworm says:

My fourteen year old daughter came to me about a year ago and told me she wanted to try weed. We talked about the uses (medically and steet use) and all the stats of starting a gateway drug at such an early age. Months later she confided in me that she had in fact tried it and didn’t see what the big deal was. She also had begun to hang out with some questionable friends in my opinion. I began random home drug tests…she failed one for weed. After that failure, I looked for the right mental health counselor that, in my opinion, would be the perfect match for her personality…It took me two months of searching and interviewing various counselors before I found the “perfect match”. To date she has been in couseling for seven months at once a week sesions. She has passed every drug test, some by me and some by the family doctor. Her counseling sessions have been scaled back to once a month instead of once a week. She is doing great and I am very proud of her! My advice to other parents is to have the child give you the passwords to their facebook, twiter and myspace pages and monitor those pages and their private messages daily. Along with any email accounts they have. If the childs cell phone carrier provides their phone logs, monitor that also to see who they are in contact with and what time of day or night these contacts are taking place. Some of her friends I just dont like, but thats me…as long as she passes the random drug tests I’m happy!

July 1, 2011 at 8:07 pm
(4) lovesteenson says:

my teen son has ADHD & Asperger’s Syndrome. He has been involved in using pot, alcohol, tobacco, and sex, all in an effort to feel better (he says he always feels like crap.) We are a stable Christian family, and none of this behavior is acceptable in our family culture. Anyone else out there with same situation and advice that works?

July 5, 2011 at 4:42 pm
(5) Robyn Schelenz says:

Hi Denise,

I have been following the CASA story and various reactions for the past few days. It’ll be interesting to see how it affects future research and what conclusions and new preventive techniques people will create in reaction to it. I wanted to throw out an infographic we created in the spring that illustrates a lot of the same trends (although it is based off Monitoring the Future data). If you find it helpful please feel free to embed it for your readers elsewhere too. It is here: http://www.homehealthtesting.com/infographic/teen-drug-use.html

Thank you for your article,

Robyn Schelenz
Home Health Testing
44 Darlington Ave
Wilmington, NC 28403

July 6, 2011 at 7:17 am
(6) Denise Guide to Parenting Teens says:

nice graphic.. little big for my site, but thanks for the offer!

July 6, 2011 at 4:26 pm
(7) Pam says:

I have a 19 year old son, whose behaviour has been a little disrespectful, does smoke and drinks. Recently on our family vacation, he was obnixious, rude, disrespectful to us, and to other family members. I believe he needs help, and guidance through counselling…has good grades, likeable, outgoing, but behaves like a bully. any help?

July 7, 2011 at 4:28 pm
(8) M Rose says:

We have an almost 18 year daughter who hasn’t given us a moment of trouble in this regard. 1)Parents must be BLACK AND WHITE on this issue, whether your child uses damaging substances or not. Don’t be wishy washy – it sends mixed signals.
2)Raise your child to be strong enough to resist or respect characteristics other than popularity. Sadly, it is usually the “popular” kids that are involved in such activities.
3)Try to have your child read the http://www.duke.learn website – teaches what drugs do in a clinical, non-preachy way. This website appeals particularly to smart kids.
4) Playing sports helps.

July 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm
(9) M Rose says:

Sorry – mistyped the Duke learn web address. Here it is:
http://www.dukebrainworks.com/

July 21, 2011 at 7:22 pm
(10) S says:

What about internet addiction. It seems to the one addiction people still aren’t talking about it. We were away from the computer for 2 weeks and my son went through I am guessing is like withdrawal from drugs. He said that the first week of the vaction sucked and the 2nd week wasn’t so bad. We have really been monitoring and limiting his computer use now. Dont know what to do about this one.

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