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The Partnership for a Drug-Free America Comments on National Survey on Drug Use and Health

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Statement of Steve Pasierb, President

Teen Drug Use Rises to 9 Percent; Reinforces That Parents Are Essential

NEW YORK, N.Y. September 16, 2010 – Troubling increases in teen drug use, including prescription medications and marijuana, as reported in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) released today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), points directly to the greater need for parent involvement and activism.

To help parents and caregivers take action and effectively communicate with their children about the dangers of substance abuse, the Partnership provides them with science-based tools, support and resources at drugfree.org.

While disturbing, the results echo findings of the 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), sponsored by MetLife Foundation released this past March. Conducted within the same timeframe as the NSDUH research, PATS pointed to marked upswings in use of drugs that teens are likely to encounter at parties and in other social situations, among them, alcohol, Ecstasy and marijuana.

The PATS data also revealed that among parents of teens who have used drugs, nearly half (47 percent) either waited to take action or took no action at all. Much like any other disease, the sooner a parent gets help for a child in trouble, the better the outcome.

“All of the signs and studies have been pointing to a softening of anti-drug attitudes among teens, and now, to the confirmation that teen drug use is rising,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. “After a decade of progress and declines in teen abuse of drugs and alcohol, this issue has fallen off the national agenda. We’ve become complacent, and the result is a generation less attuned to the devastation that teen addiction can cause families.”

“That’s why parents play such a critical role. They are the biggest influence in their children’s lives, and it’s within their power to help prevent or stop their teen’s use of drugs or alcohol. Quantitiatve studies show time and again that kids who learn a lot about the drug issue at home are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs. We’ve developed resources like Time To Act to help parents intervene as soon as they think their child may be using drugs or drinking.”

Both NSDUH and PATS indicate the need to restore support for federal prevention programs, which have seen declines in support over the past several years. While support for the nation’s prevention infrastructure, including the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, has weakened and extracurricular youth activities have been cut, pro-drug messages in popular culture abound.

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