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Reports show fewer adolescents getting substance abuse prevention messaging

February 7, 2013
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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New reports by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) find that overall, from 2002 to 2011, the percentage of adolescents receiving substance abuse prevention messages in the past year from media fell significantly – from 83.2% in 2002 to 75.1% in 2011.  School-based prevention messaging also dropped – from 78.8% in 2002 to 74.5% in 2011.  The report also finds that roughly 40% of adolescents did not talk with their parents in the past year about the dangers of substance use. 

From 2002 to 2011:

  •  The percentage of adolescents that perceive great risk from heavy drinking – having five or more drinks once or twice a week – rose from 38.2% to 40.7 during 2002 to 2011. 
  •  There was a decrease in the rate of adolescent binge drinking – from 10.7 to 7.4%.

However, from 2007 to 2011:

  • The percentage of adolescents perceiving great risk from smoking marijuana once or twice a week decreased from 54.6% in 2007 to 44.8% in 2011. 
  • The rate of current marijuana use among this group (use during the past month) rose from 6.7% in 2007 to 7.9% in 2011.

“To prevent substance abuse among our adolescents, our young people have to know the facts about the real risks of substance abuse, and we’re not doing a very good job of that right now,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde.  “It is time for all of us – the public health community, parents, teachers, caregivers, and peers – to double our efforts in educating our youth about substance use and engaging them in meaningful conversations about these issues, so that they can make safe and healthy decisions when offered alcohol or drugs.” 

Both reports, Trends in Adolescent Substance Use and Perception of Risk from Substance Use and Trends in Exposure to Substance Use Prevention Messages among Adolescents, are based on findings from the 2002 to 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).