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Teenage Drug Abuse

A recent study from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) shows that many parents fail to take essential actions that prevent teenage drug abuse or drinking by their teenage children. At the same time, the study shows that parents who do take these actions have children with lower rates of drug or alcohol use, meaning that they can be part of the solution.

The study is the annual Back to School Survey, published each year in August.

The factors found to discourage substance abuse by teens were:

  • Being engaged in the teens' day-to-day life
  • Relaxing with them
  • Frequent family dinners
  • Supervision, especially of time spent with friends on weeknights
  • Setting positive examples of healthy behavior.

On the other hand, neglect of these factors was found to coincide with greater drug use.

The study found that 46 percent of 12 to 17 year olds typically leave home to hang out with friends on school nights, but only 14 percent of parents say their kids usually leave home on these nights. The later that teens are out, the more likely it is that they will be around alcohol and drug use while they are out and the more likely it is that they will join in. Apparently, many parents miss the fact that their teens are leaving home at night and not returning until the early hours the next morning.

A startling new result in this report was the increase in the percentage of teenagers who could quickly obtain marijuana. Twenty-three percent of teens can get it in an hour or less, the highest figure yet. Forty-two percent of teenagers could get it in a day or less. Of those who could get it in an hour or less, nearly half of the teens surveyed had used the drug.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration reports that almost two and a half million people initiate use of marijuana each year where more than half of  are 12 to 17 year old children. And many of these people will go on to use other addictive drugs due to the early drug experimentation. The director of CASA, Joseph Califano, reports that "Twelve to seventeen year old children who used marijuana were eighty-five times more likely to use cocaine" than those who did not.

Teenage drug abuse can, and odds are likely that it will lead to an addiction to alcohol or drugs later in their adult life requiring the need for rehabilitation. Knowing this should give the parents, schoolteachers and all those who have a part in the development of today's youth to educate themselves about addiction and to be able to spot the warning signs that a teenager is experimenting with drugs.

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