Parents Are Clueless About Teen Drinking and Drugging

Date: January 29, 2012      Publication: HealthyWoman from Bottom Line      Source: . .      Print:

You would think that today’s parents, having been teenagers themselves in the “let it all hang out“ era, would be savvy about what kids really get up to. Yet a recent poll about teens’ use of booze and pot shows that parents have their heads in the sand. Details: In a large-scale survey of adolescents nationwide, 52% of tenth graders reported drinking alcohol in the previous year… 28% reported using marijuana in the previous year. But when 667 parents of teens ages 13 to 17 were polled, only 10% believed that their own teens had drunk alcohol and only 5% believed that their own teens had smoked pot in the previous year. Curiously, though, when it came to other people’s kids, many of these same parents overestimated teens’ substance use.

Parents: Acknowledging the possibility—in fact, the likelihood—that your own teen has experimented with alcohol and/or drugs can open the door to honest communication. Visit the Web site of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at for more information, including warning signs to watch for… then talk with your kids, their friends and their friends’ parents about the dangers of substance use and strategies for resisting peer pressure.

Source: Matthew M. Davis, MD, is the director of the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, an associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Michigan Health System, and an associate professor of public policy at the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, all in Ann Arbor.