Monday, July 12, 2010

Teens do Hear Prevention Messages

If you’ve ever watched a Charlie Brown cartoon, perhaps you noticed that every time the mother is talking, her words are represented as a nebulous “wah wah wah wah wah.” When my family wants to let me know they’re not taking my conversation seriously they mimic Charlie’s mom. I often think that’s what they hear when I talk to them about drugs and alcohol. But, I have new hope that my effort is worthwhile!

Recently released data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that youth who reported talking to at least one parent about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol or drug use in the past year were significantly less likely to report binge drinking in the past month. Teens were also asked about illicit drug use, and the survey found that 10 percent of teens who talked to a parent about the dangers of drug use still used drugs in the past month, while 13 percent who did not talk to a parent used drugs. When we’re talking about 3 percent of 14.6 million children, this translates into about a half million children!

So, the next time you feel like your children are hearing “wah, wah, wah, wah, wah…” think again! Your conversation about the dangers of alcohol and drug use could prevent your child from using these substances.

The report is available on the web at, a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the lead federal agency for improving the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment and mental health services in the United States.