Many teens drinking, taking drugs during school: survey

August 22, 2012 By Amanda Gardner, HealthDay Reporter
Many teens drinking, taking drugs during school: survey
Roughly half knew classmates who sold drugs, and knew nearby spots to drink or get high during the day.

(HealthDay) -- Ninety percent of American high school students report that some of their classmates are using illicit drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, during the school day, a new survey found.

When asked to estimate how many were involved, these reported that about 17 percent of students -- roughly 2.8 million -- are abusing drugs during the school day, according to the survey.

"The findings are alarming but not surprising," said Bruce Goldman, director of substance abuse services at Zucker Hillside Hospital, in Glen Oaks, N.Y. "We know that teens abuse alcohol, cannabis, prescription medications. It makes sense that they do it at school where they congregate with their peers.

Goldman was not involved with the survey, which was released Wednesday by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia), in New York City.

The survey is a timely one, coming out soon after a U.S. found that more teenagers start drinking and and marijuana in June and July than in any other month.

The new survey also found that schools can be a hub of -dealing activity, with 44 percent of saying they know a fellow student who sells drugs at their school.

Half of respondents knew of a place near their school where kids could go to drink and get high during the school day, according to the yearly back-to-school survey, which polled 1,003 12-to-17-year olds.

And more than one-third said that students had ample opportunity during the school day to drug, drink and smoke without getting caught.

Drug use in both public and private schools is on the rise, with 54 percent of private reporting that drugs are available in their schools versus 24 percent in 2002 and 61 percent of students at public schools saying their schools are "drug infected," compared with 46 percent in 2002.

Social media seem to be contributing to the overall trend, with 75 percent of teens saying that seeing photos of other teens partying on Facebook, MySpace or other social networking sites made them want to do the same.

Nearly half of teens who have seen such pictures perceived that the teens in the photos "are having a good time."

Kids who had seen such photos were three to four times more likely to have used marijuana, alcohol or tobacco compared to kids who had not viewed this type of picture.

"Seeing teens partying with alcohol or marijuana on Facebook and other sites encourages other teens to want to party like that," said Emily Feinstein, project director for the survey and a senior policy analyst with CASAColumbia. "Clearly, parents really need to help children navigate that world safely."

The also looked specifically at parental supervision and parental expectations and found both to play a major role in teens' drug use.

Children who are left home alone overnight are about twice as likely to have used alcohol or marijuana and three times as likely to have used tobacco, compared to kids who are not left home alone.

Teens who believe their parents would not be "extremely upset" to know that their child was using drugs were less likely to engage in this type of behavior.

"Parents need to be hypervigilant and monitor their children's friends, both virtual and reality," Goldman said.

The same goes for school personnel, he added.

"If kids know who is using drugs, why don't the staff?" he asked.

Feinstein concluded, "Preventing addiction is all about preventing teen substance use because the developing brain is more vulnerable. We really need to look at this as a health care problem rather than a behavioral problem and start screening and intervening early."

Explore further: Summer is peak time for teens to try drugs, alcohol: report

More information: For more on teens and drugs, visit the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.


Related Stories

Summer is peak time for teens to try drugs, alcohol: report

July 3, 2012
(HealthDay) -- More teenagers start drinking and smoking cigarettes and marijuana in June and July than in any other months, U.S. health officials say.

Students trading sex for drugs or alcohol happens also in rural B.C.: research

August 1, 2012
Just over two percent of teens in rural schools who have ever tried alcohol, marijuana or other drugs report they have also traded sex for these substances, according to University of British Columbia research published today ...

Recommended for you

Medical students need training to prescribe medical marijuana

September 15, 2017
Although 29 states and the District of Columbia allow marijuana use for medical purposes, few medical students are being trained how to prescribe the drug. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis ...

Protein links alcohol abuse and changes in brain's reward center

September 8, 2017
When given access to alcohol, over time mice develop a pattern similar to what we would call "problem drinking" in people, but the brain mechanisms that drive this shift have been unclear. Now a team of UC San Francisco researchers ...

11 minutes of mindfulness training helps drinkers cut back

August 24, 2017
Brief training in mindfulness strategies could help heavy drinkers start to cut back on alcohol consumption, finds a new UCL study.

Marijuana use amongst youth stable, but substance abuse admissions up

August 15, 2017
While marijuana use amongst youth remains stable, youth admission to substance abuse treatment facilities has increased, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Report reveals underground US haven for heroin, drug users

August 8, 2017
A safe haven where drug users inject themselves with heroin and other drugs has been quietly operating in the United States for the past three years, a report reveals.

Regular energy drink use linked to later drug use among young adults

August 8, 2017
Could young adults who regularly consume highly caffeinated energy drinks be at risk for future substance use? A new study by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

loneislander
not rated yet Aug 22, 2012
Lies, damn lies, and headlines:

This:"Ninety percent of American high school students report that some of their classmates are using illicit drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, during the school day, a new survey found."

Could be written as:
"Researchers discover 10% of American high school students unwilling to report the use of tobacco or other illicit drugs during school hours." [And presumably:] "Research will continue to discover which percentage are truly unaware of such common knowledge so that the size of the dishonesty can be determined."

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.