Survey Finds Rising Parental Awareness of Youth Prescription Drug Abuse

Parents are increasingly aware of the threat that prescription drug abuse poses to their children, according to findings in the latest Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA)/MetLife Foundation Parents Attitude Tracking Study (PATS).

The 2008 study of about 1,000 parents of children in grades 4-12 found that just 10 percent of parents believed that misuse of prescription drugs is “much safer” than misuse of illicit drugs, down from 19 percent in 2007. Further, only 11 percent of parents believed that misuse of prescription drugs cannot be addictive, down from 24 percent in 2007.

About one in five teens say they have misused prescription drugs. The survey found that more parents feel empowered to prevent their kids from using drugs, but parents still are more likely to discuss misuse of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs with their children than to talk about prescription drugs, the PATS 2008 study found.

“It's encouraging to see that more parents are now aware of the very real health risks of abusing medications, but now parents must take the next step — having frequent, open conversations with their teens to protect them from this dangerous behavior,” said PDFA President Steve Pasierb.

The survey also found that:

  • 70 percent of parents surveyed reported that something portrayed in the media prompted a conversation with their child about alcohol or other drugs
  • 64 percent said that they were motivated to start a discussion after seeing something drug-related on television
  • 27 percent of parents talked to their child about drugs as they were preparing to enter a new grade in school
  • 30 percent of parents used special occasions like prom and graduation as an opportunity to talk about drugs
  • 27 percent of parents said that schools should be primarily responsible for drug education, down from nearly 40 percent the previous year

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