Teens are not saying “no” when it comes to smoking marijuana and dropping ecstasy. During the last 3 years, there’s been a spike in taking these drugs as well as a more relaxed view of alcohol use among the teen population according to a new report by Partnership at Drugfree.org.
The results are particularly disturbing when you look at the statistics that were gathered.
- 7 out of 10 teens interviewed reported having friends who drank at least once a week.
- 6 out of 10 teens who reported alcohol use said they had their first full drink – not counting sips, or tasting – at age 15. Among the teens that tried alcohol just once, the average age was 14.
- 32% said they drank to “to forget their troubles, ” while 24% said they drank to “deal with problems at home.”
- Almost half, 45%, reported they didn’t see a “great risk” in drinking heavily on a daily basis.
- Only 31% said they strongly disapproved of their peers, and other teens, getting drunk.
The study found that between 2008 and 2010 teens that said they had used marijuana in the past year climbed 4% – up 39 percent from 32 percent.
During the same time period teen use of the drug ecstasy in the past year, increased from 6% to 10%.
The report, sponsored by the MetLife Foundation, was based on a survey of around 2,500 high school students.
‘These findings should serve as a call to action for parents,’ said Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “’We encourage parents and caregivers to pay attention to the warning signs of teen drinking and other drug use, in order to intervene early and effectively. If you suspect a problem, do not wait to get help for a child who is struggling with substance abuse or addiction.’
Some experts believe the rise in teen-age drug use, and the relaxed views on alcohol, may be related to the normalization of drugs and alcohol on radio and television, in magazines and advertising, along with other social media outlets. Budget cuts for treatment centers, and new struggles faced by families hit by the recession may also have contributed.
“The net impact of all that puts an even heavier burden on parents who really need to play an active roll in preventing this behavior and knowing how to get help for a kid when they are abusing any of these substances,” Sean Clarkin, director of strategy for the Partnership at Drugfree.org, told Reuters in a phone interview.
Although Marijuana and ecstasy use has risen among teens, a 2010 study from the University of Michigan Monitoring the Future, said alcohol use among 8th, 10th and 12th grade students had decreased, falling 1.6 percentage points to 26.8 percent between 2008 and 2010.
One resource for more information on teen drug and alcohol abuse is Kidshealth.org. They provide a comprehensive list of drugs that includes the symptoms, addictiveness, effects and dangers.