After a decade of consistent declines in teen drug abuse, a new national study released today by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America ® and MetLife Foundation points to marked upswings in use of drugs that teens are likely to encounter at parties and in other social situations.
According to the 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), sponsored by MetLife Foundation, the number of teens in grades 9-12 that used alcohol in the past month has grown by 11 percent (from 35 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2009), past year. Ecstasy use shows a 67 percent increase (from 6 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2009) and past year marijuana use shows a 19 percent increase (from 32 percent in 2008 to 38 percent in 2009).
The PATS data mark a reversal in the remarkable, sustained declines in several drugs of abuse among teens: methamphetamine (meth) was down by over 60 percent and past month alcohol and marijuana use had decreased a full 30 percent over the past decade from 1998-2008.
More Teens Using Alcohol, Ecstasy and Marijuana Makes Early Parental Action Even More Critical
"These new PATS data should put all parents on notice that they have to pay closer attention to their kids’ behavior – especially their social interactions – and they must take action just as soon as they think their child may be using drugs or drinking," said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership.
The resurgence in teen drug and alcohol use comes at a time when pro-drug cues in popular culture – in film, television and online – abound, and when funding for federal prevention programs has been declining for several years. This places an even greater burden on parents.
Parents Not Acting Early Enough, Need to Take Immediate Action
Among the parents surveyed for the PATS study, 20 percent say their child (ages 10-19) has already used drugs or alcohol beyond an "experimental" level. Among parents of teens ages 14-19, that percentage jumps to 31 percent, nearly one third.
Disturbingly, among those parents of teens who have used, nearly half (47 percent) either waited to take action or took no action at all – which studies show put those children at greater risk of continued use and negative consequences.
Time To Act: Resource to Help Parents Take Immediate Action, Safeguarding Kids
The Partnership encourages parents of children who are using drugs or alcohol to take action as soon as they suspect or know their child is using and Time To Act provides parents with free, anonymous access to the most current, research-based information on how to help their child.
Time To Act, offers step-by-step advice and sympathetic guidance from substance abuse experts, family therapists, scientists and fellow parents to help guide families through the process of understanding drug and alcohol use, confronting a child, setting boundaries, and seeking outside help. Because research tells us that kids in grades 7-12 who learn a lot about the dangers of drugs from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to ever use, parents are encouraged to have frequent ongoing conversations with their children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and take early action if they think their child is using or might have a problem.
To learn more about Time To Act and for more information on the full PATS study results, please visit drugfree.org.
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