Sobering statistics on adolescent substance abuse

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According to a new report issued yesterday by the Partnership at Drugfree.org, a trend in substance abuse has been on the rise for the past three years among adolescents, following a decade of continuous declines in drug abuse. The number of teenagers who admitted to using marijuana within the past year increased from 32 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2010. During the same time period, teens who owned up to using the drug ecstasy climbed from 6 percent to 10 percent.

As part of the results of the Partnership Attitude Tracking study, 45 percent of 2,500 high school students surveyed said they don’t see a “great risk” in drinking heavily everyday. ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross was alarmed at that statistic, noting that, “If 45 percent of these students don’t perceive any risk to this sort of behavior, then we’re failing the health education of our high schoolers.”

“The problem,” says ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, “is that these kids are abusing alcohol in a similar manner that they would abuse illicit drugs. It’s not like they’re sitting down to dinner every evening with a glass of wine — they’re guzzling liquor and engaging in dangerous behaviors like binge drinking.”

Sean Clarkin, director of strategy for the Partnership at Drugfree.org, thinks that the rise in substance abuse “puts an even heavier burden on parents who really need to play an active role in preventing this behavior and knowing how to get help for a kid when they are abusing any of these substances.”