National Study Shows Reversal in Decade-Long Declines in Teen Abuse of Drugs and Alcohol

After a decade of consistent declines in teen drug abuse, a new national study released today by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America® and MetLife Foundation points to marked upswings in use of drugs that teens are likely to encounter at parties and in other social situations.

According to the 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), sponsored by MetLife Foundation, the number of teens in grades 9-12 that used alcohol in the past month has grown by 11 percent (from 35 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2009), past year Ecstasy use shows a 67 percent increase (from 6 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2009) and past year marijuana use shows a 19 percent increase (from 32 percent in 2008 to 38 percent in 2009).

The PATS data mark a reversal in the remarkable, sustained declines in several drugs of abuse among teens: methamphetamine (meth) was down by over 60 percent and past month alcohol and marijuana use had decreased a full 30 percent over the past decade from 1998-2008.

More Teens Using Alcohol, Ecstasy and Marijuana Makes Early Parental Action Even More Critical
“These new PATS data should put all parents on notice that they have to pay closer attention to their kids’ behavior – especially their social interactions – and they must take action just as soon as they think their child may be using drugs or drinking,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of Partnership for a Drug-Free America®.

The resurgence in teen drug and alcohol use comes at a time when pro-drug cues in popular culture – in film, television and online – abound, and when funding for federal prevention programs has been declining for several years. This places an even greater burden on parents.

Parents Not Acting Early Enough, Need to Take Immediate Action
Among the parents surveyed for the PATS study, 20 percent say their child (ages 10-19) has already used drugs or alcohol beyond an “experimental” level. Among parents of teens ages 14-19, that percentage jumps to 31 percent, nearly one third.

Disturbingly, among those parents of teens who have used, nearly half (47 percent) either waited to take action or took no action at all – which studies show put those children at greater risk of continued use and negative consequences.

For further information on alcohol and other drug abuse prevention, contact Talbot Partnership at 410-819-8067

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