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> Parents > Enabling

Enabling

Problem Parents Enable Teens to Abuse Drugs, Alcohol

Problem parents — those who fail to monitor their children’s school night activities, safeguard their prescription drugs, address the problem of drugs in their children’s schools and set good examples — increase the risk that their 12- to 17-year old children will smoke, drink and use illegal and prescription drugs, according to the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XIII: Teens and Parents, the 13th annual back-to-school survey conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. Almost half (46 percent) of 12- to 17-year olds report leaving their house to hang out with friends on school nights. Among these teens, 50 percent who come home after 10:00 p.m. say that drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana or other drug use occurs. Twenty-nine percent who come home after 8:00 p.m. and before 10:00 p.m. say that drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana or other drug use occurs. But only 14 percent of parents say their teens usually leave the house to hang out with friends on school nights.

The survey also found that:

  • More teens said prescription drugs were easier to buy than beer (19 vs. 15%). The proportion of teens who say prescription drugs are easiest to buy jumped 46 percent since 2007 (13 vs. 19%). Almost half (46%) of teens say painkillers are the most commonly abused prescription drug among teens. When teens who know prescription drug abusers were asked where those kids get their drugs, 31% said from friends or classmates, 34% said from home, parents or the medicine cabinet, 16 percent said other and 9% said from a drug dealer. 
  • 97% of all parents surveyed and 96 percent of parents who believe their teens’ schools are not drug-free say it is important that their teen’s school be drug-free. Yet 42% of parents think their teens’ school is not drug-free, and only 39% of those parents believe making the school drug-free is a realistic goal. One-third of parents believe that the presence of illegal drugs in their teen’s school does not make it more likely that their teen will try them. 
  • One-quarter of teens surveyed know a parent of a classmate or friend who uses marijuana; 10% of teens say this parent smokes marijuana with people the teen’s age.
  • One-third of teens who drink say they like the taste of alcohol. When teens were asked what type of alcoholic beverage they prefer, 29% said liquor mixed with cola or something sweet, 16% said wine, 16% said beer and 13% said straight liquor. While the same proportion of boys and girls prefer liquor mixed with something sweet (29%), more boys than girls prefer beer (22 vs. 10%), and more girls than boys prefer wine (20 vs. 13%).
  • 28% of teens cite drugs as the biggest problem they face, compared to only 17% of parents who see drugs as the top teen concern.
  • Compared to the time when they were growing up, parents overwhelmingly say it is harder today to keep kids safe (84%) and to raise a teen “of good moral character” (72%).

"Preventing substance abuse among teens is primarily a Mom and Pop operation," noted Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA’s chairman and president and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. "It is inexcusable that so many parents fail to appropriately monitor their children, fail to keep dangerous prescription drugs out of the reach of their children and tolerate drug infected schools. The parents who smoke marijuana with children should be considered child abusers. By identifying the characteristics of problem parents we seek to identify actions that parents can take — and avoid — in order to become part of the solution and raise healthy, drug-free children."

Source: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University
August 14, 2008

> Parents > Enabling
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