Posted by Steps to Recovery on February 8, 2013

The most vulnerable people in our culture are now receiving less support around substance abuse prevention. Current government research is indicating that a high percentage of teenagers are experiencing fewer messages about substance abuse prevention from the media and at school. This new report shows that in 2011, just over eight percent fewer teens were exposed to this vital type of information and support through the media as compared to 2002, and almost four and a half percent fewer teens received this information in school in 2011 as compared to 2002. On top of these frightening statistics, a staggering forty percent of teenagers did not talk to their parents about the dangers of substance abuse in the past year.

The percentage of teenagers who receive substanced abuse prevention messages from the media in the past year dropped from 83.2 percent in 2002, to 75.1 percent in 2011, according to a new government report.

Teens also received fewer school-based prevention messages, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found. Such messages reached 78.8 percent of teens in 2002, and 74.5 percent in 2011. An estimated 40 percent of teens did not talk with their parents in the past year about the dangers of substance abuse, Newswise reports.

A recent SAMHSA report found teen attitudes about the risk of substances such as alcohol and marijuana have changed in recent years. From 2002 to 2011, the percentage of teens who perceived great risk from heavy drinking increased from 38.2 percent to 40.7 percent. During that same time, there was a drop in binge drinking among teens, from 10.7 percent to 7.4 percent.

The report found the percentage of 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. Teens’ rate of past-month marijuana use increased 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.”

How can we make sure the young people in our society are receiving this vital information and education? What can we do to help protect teenagers from the dangers of addiction?

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