Survey Finds Parents Underestimate Alcohol and
Illicit Drug Use by Youth
August 17, 2006
Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR)
underestimate alcohol and illicit drug use by youth,
according to data from the most recent national
Pride surveys of parents and students.
One-fifth (21%) of
students in 6th grade reported that they had drunk
alcohol at least once in the past year. Yet only 5%
of parents said that their 6th grade child has tried
or is using alcohol.
While the gap between
students’ self-reported use and parents’ perceptions
of their own children’s use narrows with age,
parents continue to significantly underestimate
alcohol use by youth.
More than two-thirds
of 12th graders reported past year alcohol use,
while only 41% of parents thought that their
12th grade child had used alcohol.
Similar results were
found for illicit drug use. For example, 36% of
12th graders reported using illicit drugs at least
once in the past year, while 15% of parents reported
that their 12th grade child used drugs.
Recent research has
shown that early alcohol use increases the
likelihood of developing alcohol dependence at a
including data charts, source information and
caveats, download the PDF file at
CESAR Fax, a weekly, one-page overview of timely
substance abuse trends or issues, from The Center on
Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) at the University