Sue Scheff: Teens and Substance Abuse

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the MetLife Foundation today released the results of the 14th annual national survey of parents attitudes about teen drug abuse. The results show a strong increase in parental awareness of the dangers of one of the most troubling trends in teen drug use – the abuse of prescription medications.

However, not enough parents are talking to their kids about the risks. 1 in 5 teens has abused an Rx medication, and more than 2,500 teens per day use a prescription painkiller to get high for the first time. Steve Pasierb, President of the Partnership, is available to discuss the findings of the 2008 Partnership/MetLife Foundation Parents Attitude Tracking Study:

· The number of parents who mistakenly believe that abusing prescription medicines is “much safer” than using illicit street drugs dropped by nearly half—from 19 percent in 2007 to just ten percent in 2008.

· In 2007, 24 percent of parents believed that intentional abuse of prescription medicines would not be addictive. In 2008, that number decreased significantly to 11 percent.

· Despite this increased awareness, there has not been a corresponding increase in parents talking to their kids about these dangers. The study also highlights differences between the way mothers and fathers approach drug and alcohol issues with their kids:

· Mothers are more likely to feel comfortable setting and enforcing rules about alcohol, tobacco and drug use—just 10 percent of mothers said they had difficulty enforcing these rules, versus 18 percent of fathers.

· Mothers were also less likely to prioritize “friendship” with their children– 59 percent of fathers versus 51 percent of mothers felt it was very important for their child to consider them a friend.

Feel free to email Candice Besson at to schedule an interview or receive a copy of the PATS research report, or visit for more information.

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