Home Page of the DPNA Website Learn about the Drug Prevention Network of the Americas, its history, principles, members, supporters, and board Looking for information about drug prevention?  Check out our web page links, books, presentations, position papers, and brochures Want to connect with national, regional or international drug prevention sites?  Visit our extensive Links section. Keep up with the latest drug prevention news and events. Ready to become a part of the Drug Prevention Network of the Americas?  Sign up on line.

WWW DPNA News and Updates
Drug Research
Drug Effects
Drug Information
Drug Trends
Best Practices
Drug Legalization
Drug Policy
Books and Guides
Funding Sources

Survey: Parents Clueless On Booze, Drugs at Teen Parties 

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 parties.

"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 terrible disconnect."

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 parties.

"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 marijuana."

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 13-year-olds.

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."