Problem Parents Enable Teens to Abuse Drugs, Alcohol

Thursday, August 14th, 2008
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

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.

  • More teens said prescription drugs were easier to buy than beer (19 vs. 15 percent). The proportion of teens who say prescription drugs are easiest to buy jumped 46 percent since 2007 (13 vs. 19 percent). Almost half (46 percent) 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 percent said from friends or classmates, 34 percent said from home, parents or the medicine cabinet, 16 percent said other and 9 percent said from a drug dealer.
  • Ninety-seven percent 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 percent of parents think their teens’ school is not drug-free, and only 39 percent 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.
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