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Friday, February 15, 2013

Teens Not Getting the Message

The battle against youth addiction is one that should be taken seriously and considered a high priority amongst leading officials and media conglomerates. Teenagers absorb more information from schools and television than any other source, yet there seems to be lack of prevention messages reaching America’s youth. In fact, the percentage of teenagers who received substance abuse prevention messages from the media in the past year dropped from 83.2 percent in 2002, to 75.1 percent in 2011, a new government report has found.

There have also been fewer school-based prevention messages, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates. Such messages reached 78.8 percent of teens in 2002, and 74.5 percent in 2011.

Teen attitudes about the risk of substances like alcohol and marijuana have changed in recent years, according to a recent SAMHSA report. Fortunately, between 2002 and 2011, teens who perceived great risk from heavy drinking increased from 38.2 percent to 40.7 percent; there was also a decline in binge drinking among teens, from 10.7 percent to 7.4 percent.

About 40 percent of teens did not speak with their parents in the past year about the dangers of substance abuse, Newswise reports. 

It comes as no surprise that the report found that teens who perceived great risk from marijuana use once or twice a week dropped, from 54.6 percent in 2007, to 44.8 percent in 2011. The rate of past-month marijuana use increased amongst teens during that time, from 6.7 percent to 7.9 percent.

“To prevent substance abuse among our adolescents, our young people have to know the facts about the real risks of substance abuse, and we’re not doing a very good job of that right now,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a news release. “It is time for all of us – the public health community, parents, teachers, caregivers, and peers – to double our efforts in educating our youth about substance use and engaging them in meaningful conversations about these issues, so that they can make safe and healthy decisions when offered alcohol or drugs.”

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