More Teens Expected to Try Drugs; Boomer Parents Appear Resigned
A survey of teenagers conducted for The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia (CASA) * by the Luntz Research Cos. reveals that the number of teens expecting to try illegal drugs in the future has doubled since 1995.
The percentage of teens saying they would never try illegal drugs dropped 40 percent--from 86 percent in 1995 to 51 percent in 1996.
Many baby boomer parents appear resigned to such widespread drug use by their teens. Forty-six percent expect their teens to try illegal drugs. And 65 percent of boomer parents who regularly used marijuana in their youth believe their teen will try drugs.
"The National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse and Addiction II: Teens and Their Parents," the first ever conducted of teens' and their parents' attitudes about tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs, was released Sept. 9 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. by CASA President and former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph A. Califano, Jr. and Frank Luntz, president of Luntz Research Cos.
Twelve hundred teenagers age 12-17 and 1166 parents, all with children in the same age group (819 parents came from the same households as the children), were surveyed by telephone during July and August. The margin of error for the teenagers is +/- 2.8; for the parents, +/- 2.9.
According to the survey, 22 percent of adolescents age 12-17 said they are very likely or somewhat likely to try illegal drugs in the future, while in 1995 11 percent thought they might use illegal drugs sometime in the future. As in 1995, America's adolescents rate drugs their biggest problem and their parents--surveyed for the first time this year--agree.
"Every child in America is at risk of using drugs. The issue isn't whether our children are going to be tossed into this sea of drugs; the issue is how well we can teach them to swim," said Califano. "What is infuriating about the attitudes revealed in this survey is the resignation of so many parents and teens to the present mess. It's time for parents of American teens to say, 'We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore.' The more parents take responsibility, the less at risk of using drugs their children are."
By the time American teenagers reach 17:
- 58 percent have a friend who has used LSD, cocaine or heroin; 62 percent have friends who are marijuana users.
- 43 percent have one friend with a serious drug problem; 28 percent have more than one. 34 percent know someone with a serious drinking problem.
- 43 percent say marijuana is easier to buy than either cigarettes or beer.
- 58 percent have been solicited to buy marijuana.
The survey revealed that the drug culture is not confined to teenagers. A substantial number of their baby boomer parents see illegal drugs in their daily lives and used marijuana when they were young.
* The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University is neither affiliated with, nor sponsored by, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (also known as "CASA") or any of its member organizations, or any other organization with the name "CASA."
Columbia University Record -- September 20, 1996 -- Vol. 22, No. 3