Parents Are Clueless About Teen Drug Abuse
Researchers from Wayne State University and the National Institute on Drug Abuse discovered that when teens were asked about their use of cocaine and opiates, teens often were dishonest with answers despite the fact they knew they were being subjected to hair analyses that would prove they did use those drugs.
"The basic finding is that when teens were asked about their use of cocaine and opiates, they gave socially acceptable answers rather than being completely forthright," said Dr. Virginia Delaney-Black, a study co-author and professor of pediatrics at Wayne State in Detroit.
Researchers surveyed over 400 teens and their caregivers and asked whether they used a variety of drugs, including cocaine, opiates and marijuana. Researchers later did hair analyses on them and compared the results of those tests with their survey answers. Teens and parents did not generally answer questions honestly about teens' drug use, and parents also did not answer truthfully about their own drug use. They were unable to accurately analyze marijuana use because the hair tests were not sensitive enough.
Teens and parents did not answer honestly. "All the data we have about teen use of drugs, except when [they've faced legal action] or when they're in drug treatment, comes from self-report," said Delaney-Black. "We need to rethink what we're doing from the perspective of pediatrics, and when there's need to know about drug use, and should consider biologic measures."
Teen hair analysis was 52 times more likely than self-report to identify cocaine use. For parents, hair analyses for cocaine and opiates were 6.5 and 5.5 times more likely, respectively, to identify drug use than parental self-report.
Parent can help their children confide in them if they start talking about the risks of drugs and alcohol when children are still young, help children with how to react with what they will say to peers who want them to drink or use drugs and have good communication skills with them.
"The lack of concordance between teen self- or parent-reported teen drug use and biomarkers confirm our concerns that both teen- and parent-reported teen drug use is limited, at least for youth in high-risk urban settings. Methods of ascertainment other than self- or parent-report must be considered when health care providers, researchers, and public health agencies attempt to estimate teen drug-use prevalence," the authors write.