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More teens get message on drugs, study says

Associated Press / February 26, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Parents appear to be talking more effectively with their children about the dangers of drug use, says a study being released today.

"Parents are talking, and what you see in the study, particularly among the girls, is the willingness of kids to listen. They're more open to talking about the drug issue than kids in the past," said Steve Pasierb, president and chief executive of The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, which commissioned the study.

The annual survey found the number of teens who reported "learning a lot" from their parents about the risks of drug use rose last year to 37 percent, up from 32 percent the previous year. It marks the first compelling increase in that number in 15 years, and Pasierb considers it noteworthy.

"We know from the last 20 years of this study that kids who report learning a lot at home about the drug issue are half as likely to use as kids who don't get that at home," he said.

Also encouraging: a decline in marijuana and methamphetamine use.

The percentage of teens who reported using pot - the most widely abused drug - at least once in their lives dropped last year to 33 percent from 37 percent in 2005, and methamphetamine use declined from 8 percent to 6 percent, the report said.

Teens reporting use of pot in the past month has dropped 30 percent since 1998, and 40 percent for meth abuse.

Parents, the study said, most often discuss alcohol and marijuana with their children, followed by cocaine, crack, and heroin. Farther down the list was prescription drugs. Only 24 percent of teens said their parents had discussed prescription drug abuse with them, compared with 78 percent for alcohol and pot.

Pasierb said prescription drugs continue to be a concern. Teen abuse of such drugs has remained flat at 19 percent since 2005, the study found. "Parents don't think it's a problem and they think it's safer than illicit street drugs," he said.

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