Feb. 22 /PRNewswire/
-- When it comes to today's parents and their
views about drugs, it appears old attitudes are like
old habits -- they die hard, and sometimes, not at
17th annual tracking study of parents' attitudes
toward drugs and teen drug use, the Partnership for a
Drug-Free America(R) today reports that the current
generation of parents -- the most drug-experienced
group on record -- sees less risk in a wide variety of
illicit drugs, and are significantly less likely to be
talking with their teens about drug abuse, when
compared to moms and dads just a few years ago.
the vast majority of parents have left old habits
behind, they're carrying old attitudes and beliefs
forward," said Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of the
Partnership. "If old habits die hard, the data suggest
that lax attitudes about drugs die even harder."
today at a press briefing in New York, the 2004
Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) surveyed
1,205 parents across the country (margin of error =
+/- 2.8 percent). Top-line findings of the nationally
projectable study(1) show:
* Today's parents see less risk in drugs like marijuana, cocaine and even
inhalants, when compared to parents just a few years ago.
* The number of parents who report never talking with their child about
drugs has doubled in the past six years, from 6 percent in 1998 to 12
percent in 2004.
* Just 51 percent of today's parents said they would be upset if their
child experimented with marijuana.
* While most parents believe it's important that parents discuss drugs
with their children, fewer than one in three teens (roughly 30 percent)
say they've learned a lot about the risks of drugs at home.
today's parents (those with pre-teens and teens) were
high school students themselves during the late '70s
and early '80s -- a period when teen drug use reached
its absolute high point.(2) In fact, when compared to
high school seniors today, teen drug use rates were
significantly higher in the late '70s and early '80s.
"It's not all that uncommon today to come across
teenagers who've never use drugs who have parents who
have," Pasierb said.
of today's parents use drugs today (11 percent report
smoking marijuana in the past year), 58 percent have
tried marijuana at least once in their lives,
according to the Partnership's study. Significant
percentages report trying other illicit substances as
their first-hand knowledge about the issue, the
Partnership's study finds that today's parents
significantly underestimate the presence of drugs in
their teens' lives.
* Just one in five parents (21 percent) believes their teenager has
friends who use marijuana. Yet 62 percent of teens report having friends
who use the drug.
* Fewer than one in five parents (18 percent) believe their teen has
smoked marijuana, yet many more (39 percent) already are experimenting
with the drug.
* This perceptual disconnect is even more pronounced when it comes to
drugs that weren't around when today's parents were teenagers. Only one
in every 100 parents -- one percent -- believes their teen may have used
MDMA, commonly referred to as Ecstasy. The reality is quite different:
Some nine percent of all teens -- 2.1 million teens in America -- used
Ecstasy for the first time last year, down from a peak of 12 percent in
noted that the drug scene in America is vastly
different today than it was back in the late '70s and
'80s. "Alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine -- parents
know these drugs," he said. "Today's teens, however,
are exposed to new drugs of abuse -- Ecstasy, GHB,
crystal meth and increasingly, a wide variety of
prescription and over-the-counter medications. In
total, parents are seeing less risk in a variety of
drugs and fewer parents are talking with kids just
when teens are facing new drugs and new drug threats.
All of this adds up to a potentially dangerous
convergence in the trends -- one that we must
Partnership's tracking data underscore the powerful
influence parents can have on teen decision-making
about drugs. Teens who report learning a lot about the
risks of drugs at home are up to half as likely to use
drugs, according to the data.
clear, parents don't want their kids using drugs --
any drugs," Pasierb said. "But the data tell us
today's parents don't regard drug use as seriously as
past generations of parents. Our challenge is getting
parents to look at this issue anew, and in ways that
penetrate their current beliefs and attitudes."
the Partnership launched a new, national
communications effort designed to reach parents with
new, compelling information about the evolving nature
of the drug problem in America. The program -- called
Partnering with Families -- includes advertising
campaigns, a parent-centric Web community, Web
resources for parents and a parent-driven campaign to
recruit families that have dealt with substance abuse
to spread the word.
Partnership's Web site for full details about the new
Partnership for a Drug-Free America(R) is a private,
non-profit coalition of professionals from the
communications industry. Best known for its national,
drug-education advertising campaign, The Partnership
exists to help kids and teens reject substance abuse
by influencing attitudes through persuasive
information. The Partnership's State/City Alliance
Program supports The Partnership's mission at the
local level. The Partnership receives major funding
from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and financial
support from more than 200 private sector
corporations. The Partnership accepts no money from
alcohol or tobacco manufacturers. All actors in The
Partnership's ads appear pro bono through the
generosity of the Screen Actors Guild and the American
Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
1. Conducted by RoperASW for the Partnership. Survey of parents in
households with children under the age of 18.
2. According to the Monitoring the Future study, conducted by the
University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, under grants
from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.