The Partnership at Comments on New National Study on Teen Substance Abuse

~CASA Survey Reports Teens Who Regularly Use Social Networking Sites More Likely to Smoke, Drink, Use Drugs ~

New York, NY – August, 24 2011 – A national study released today by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University underscores the vital role of parents in preventing drug and alcohol abuse among their children and teens.

 The 16th annual “National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse: Teens and Parents” reports that American teenagers who spend time on social networking sites are more likely to smoke, drink and use drugs. The survey asked 12- to 17-yearolds whether they spend time on Facebook, MySpace or other social networking sites.

CASA reports, “Seventy percent of teens report spending time on social networking sites in a typical day compared to 30 percent of teens who say they do not. Compared to teens that spend no time on social networking sites in a typical day, ‘social networking teens’ that do are: five times more likely to use tobacco; three times more likely to use alcohol; and twice as likely to use marijuana.”

“This study serves as a timely reminder to parents – while there have always been many potentially negative influences on impressionable teens from the mass media, social media, internet, popular culture and pressure from their peers, parents remain the most important influence in the lives of their kids,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “With the ever-growing centrality of digital technology and social media in teen lives, parents cannot be complacent. Now more than ever, parents need to be in tune with their children’s lives and aware of what they are doing online, with their mobile devices and when hanging out with their friends.”

The CASA Columbia survey also reports that 40 percent of all teens surveyed have seen pictures on social networking sites of their peers “getting drunk, passed out, or using drugs.” Half of teens who have seen these images on social networking sites first saw such pictures when they were 13 years of age or younger; more than 90 percent first saw such pictures when they were 15 or younger.

“Early use of drugs and alcohol is so clearly associated with problems later in life that parents need to take action right away when they realize their kids are using drugs or drinking, and get immediate help for a child when there’s a substance abuse problem,” said Pasierb. This is especially true when there are additional risk factors such as a family history of substance abuse or addiction, or a co-occurring mental health issue.”

Pasierb added: “Research shows that kids who learn a lot about the dangers of drugs from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs than those who do not get that critical message at home.  Parents and caring adults have real power to positively influence the decisions their children make, but not enough understand this fact or use that power to full effect.”

The CASA Columbia survey underscores the need for parents or any adults raising children together to be on the same page about the messages they send to teens. According to the survey, “Teens whose parents don’t agree completely with each other on what to say to their teen about drug use are more than three times likelier to use marijuana, and three-and-a-half times likelier to expect to try drugs in the future, than teens whose parents agree completely on what to say about drug use. Teens whose parents do not agree completely with each other on what to say to their teen about drinking alcohol are twice as likely to use alcohol than teens whose parents agree completely on what to say about drinking.”

To learn more about how to help parents prevent, intervene in and find treatment for drug and alcohol use by their children, please visit

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