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Study: Parents Have Misperception Of Kids’ Drug, Alcohol Use

Only 10 percent of parents think their own teens drank alcohol in the last year and 5 percent think their teens smoked marijuana in the last year.

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Photo: Troy Holdren (Flickr)

Only 1 in 20 parents think their own teenager has used marijuana in the past year.

A new study looks at parents’ perception of alcohol and marijuana use among teenagers. The study from the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital says that 10 percent of parents think their own teens drank alcohol in the last year and five percent think their teens smoked marijuana in the last year.

But, those same parents say 60 percent of other teens have consumed alcohol and 40 percent have smoked marijuana. Clinical psychologist Dr. Greg Sipes says those numbers are not far off.

“By the time you’re in tenth grade, most kids have used alcohol and a good portion of kids have already smoked marijuana,” he said. “And by the time you’re into twelfth grade, a vast majority have tried both.”

Dr. Sipes says alcohol and marijuana aren’t the only drugs to be concerned about.

“Interestingly enough the fastest growing type of substance abuse among teens in this country is prescription substances, right out of the drug cabinet at home, the medicine cabinet,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s even the parents’ medicine.”

Dr. Sipes says parents need to talk to their teenagers about drug and alcohol use whether they believe their kids have tried them or not. He says it is also smart to make sure any substances such as alcohol are not readily available in the house.

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