Teens Are Getting Fewer Drug Prevention Messages From the Media

teen girlResults from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) spanning the last decade were used to help compile a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) analyzing trends in teen’s attitudes towards drugs and exposure to drug prevention discussions in the media and at home. The latest report looked at adolescents’ responses from 2002 through 2011 and included 68,000 teens between the ages of 12 and 18 years.

Results from the NSDUH over time have shown that young people seem to be getting much less exposure to anti-drug abuse campaigns in the media. In 2002, 83.2 percent of teens reported seeing drug prevention messages as compared to 2011 when only 75.1 percent could say the same thing. At the same time, substance abuse prevention programs in schools also took a dip; in 2002, 78.8 percent of adolescents were witness to school-based drug prevention efforts while in 2011 only 74.5 percent were exposed to a drug prevention campaign at school.

Teens Are Binge Drinking Less Often

It is not clear what has driven the reduction in teen binge drinking, however, we do know that it was not due to an increase in anti-drug campaigns and messages. Although there was a lack of public drug prevention campaigns aimed at adolescents during this period, teens were somehow still getting the message about the dangers of binge drinking. The number of adolescents who see great risk in drinking excessively (defined as five or more drinks at one event) rose 2.5 percent. In the same vein, the number of teens who engaged in binge drinking behavior dropped more than 3 percent.

Teens’ Attitudes Towards Marijuana Are Becoming More Lax

In spite of the fact that teens started to see that drinking alcohol to excess is a problem, their feelings towards marijuana safety and use have become much more lenient. The number of teens who perceived great risk in smoking marijuana once a week or more plummeted by 10 percent in just a four-year period between 2007 to 2011.

During the same period, the quantity of kids who admitted to smoking marijuana within the last month rose from 6.7 to 7.9 percent.

Experts in the field of addiction worry that the rapidly changing marijuana laws in some states where both medical and recreational use of the drug is now legal may be sending the wrong message to teens. They speculate that because marijuana is now used for medical reasons, it automatically makes people assume that it is safe to use without boundaries.

If your child is struggling with abuse of marijuana, alcohol, or any illicit substance, don’t wait to make it clear that none are safe or acceptable choices. Contact us today at Newport Academy if you would like support in helping your child to choose to abstinence.

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