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Insight into Teens’ Attitudes toward Addictive Substances

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For almost 30 years, several national surveys of teens have been undertaken. The hope always was that ultimate goal is to help parents better understand the experiences, attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors of their adolescent children in relation to nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs.

The findings explored in the report clearly demonstrate that parents and other caregivers continue to be the main source of protection for teenagers who face widespread exposure to, and misinformation about, nicotine, alcohol and other substances, particularly as they enter high school.

So what were the primary takeaways of these surveys?

The first finding noted the differences between responses from older and younger teens, and found that risk factors for substance use increase significantly as they age. Findings also indicated that nearly 30 percent of teens disclosed they have personally witnessed illegal substance use in real life.

This is of concern because the most common place these teens observed substance use was on school property. Additional findings include the following:

  • Even for teens with many risk factors for substance use, parents continue to have the largest influence over their children's decisions and actions when it comes to substance use.
  • More than half of teens surveyed (56 percent) said they believe the most common reason some kids their age choose not to drink or use other substances is their parents – either because they think their parents would disapprove, or because they don't want to get in trouble.
  • A majority of teens (56 percent) described their relationship with their parents as "excellent."

So what are the suggested actions for parents to undertake? Well, parents and caregivers need to initiate prevention efforts at a young age, and, not pull back as teens get older. Parents need to make sure they are well informed about teens' exposure to substances. And, they need to have frequent, open, honest conversations with teens. Most importantly, parents should remember that they must provide their youth with proper behavior modeling lessons – do not indulge in drinking, partake in substance use, and smoking or vaping.

Parents need to set clear and fair rules, and stick to them. And of course, parents should seek help early for signs of risk.

Wellspring Center for Prevention loves working with parents and caregivers to make a difference in the lives of their children. We offer unique, highly-tailored programs that meet the distinct needs of parents and caregivers. Our programs are staffed by family advocates and youth advocates who can help parents and caregivers learn how to help their children navigate today's world, help children learn skills and ways to cope, and find understanding and support.

For more information, please visit our website at https://wellspringprevention.org/prevention-education/parents-caregivers. If you are seeking help for youe youth, check out our wb-based Help tool at https://wellspringprevention.org/information-referral/treatment-referrals. Or call us at 732-254-3344.
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