Survey: Parents Clueless On Booze, Drugs at Teen
Donna Leinwand, USA TODAY, August 16, 2006
Parents' images of the
typical teen party as generally drug and
alcohol-free are drastically out of whack with
reality, according to a survey out today from the
National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse
at Columbia University.
The 11th annual survey of teenagers and parents
finds that half of teens who attend parties say
alcohol, drugs or both are available, but 80% of
parents believe their teens attend substance-free
"They smell no pot, they see no drinking and they
hear nothing of the drugs that their kids are
using," center chairman Joseph Califano says. "I
think they really have no sense of how awash their
teens' world is in alcohol and drugs. There is a
Parental supervision at parties deters some drug use
but does not guarantee kids won't sneak alcohol and
drugs, the survey shows. Although 99% of parents say
they would not be willing to serve alcohol at their
teen's party, 28% of teens say they have been at
supervised parties where alcohol is available.
Carol Falkowski, director of research communications
at the Hazelden Foundation, a drug treatment
facility in Center City, Minn., speaks to parent
groups across the country and finds that their own
teen experiences color their image of today's
"It's much different today. Parents need to catch
up," Falkowski says. "We live in a world where 8 out
of 10 kids are going to drink alcohol before they
get out of high school and 50% will have tried
The move from middle school to high school is a
critical point where the risk of alcohol and drug
abuse rises dramatically, according to the survey.
It finds 14-year-olds are four times more likely to
be offered prescription drugs and three times more
likely to be offered Ecstasy or marijuana than
The older teens also are far more likely to
encounter alcohol and drugs at parties even when
parents are supervising, the survey says.
"The parents may be home, but they are rarely
walking into the room where their kids are having a
party," Califano says.
Tessa Vining, who runs Phoenix House's IMPACT, a
drug rehabilitation program in New York City, says
parents often suspect their children are
experimenting with drugs, but don't realize how much
or how often.
"Kids will party in a house if the parents go out to
dinner for three hours," she says.
Falkowski recommends talking regularly to kids: "Be
nosy and stay engaged."