Youth substance use: What do parents think?

Drug abuse and alcohol abuse are two of the top 10 health concerns for kids in the U.S. Data recently released from the CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) indicate that the use of drugs and alcohol is a prominent issue for America’s youth. As students go back to school, it’s important for parents to think about substance use and how it might affect their children.

We asked parents of 13- to 17-year-olds about their perceptions of drug and alcohol use among teens in general, and their perceptions of their own teens’ drug and alcohol use. Parents overestimated teen substance use on a national level (when compared with 10th graders’ self-report of alcohol and marijuana use in the 2010 Monitoring the Future Study), while very few thought their own teens were using drugs and alcohol.

Parents' perceptions versus teens' report of alcohol and marijuana use
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This NPCH Poll also found that 15% of parents were unsure about their teens’ use of alcohol and marijuana. It’s important for parents to be aware of the issues and warning signs surrounding teen substance use. There is a clear need for education of parents about teen substance use, to encourage better communication and shared information.