Survey Shows How Teens, Sex, and Substance Abuse Interact

A new survey of American teenagers shows that what people say about sex and drugs is more than a cliché — where teens are concerned, the two often do go together. The survey found that those teens who say most of their friends are having sex are themselves more likely to have tried marijuana, alcohol, and cigarettes.

The annual survey, which was conducted by Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), also found another correlation between sex and substance abuse: the more time adolescents spend with their boyfriends or girlfriends, the more likely they are to smoke, drink, and use drugs.

CASA president Joseph Califano says this year's results show a “tight connection” between sexual behavior and substance abuse. He warns that parents whose children are dating or sexually active should be on alert for signs of substance abuse.

Also, Califano notes, teen accessing of sexual content on the Internet is another warning sign of other types of risky behavior. “We found that 45 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have friends who regularly download Internet pornography,” he says, “and if [a teen has] a lot of friends like that, [that teen is] also much likelier to smoke, drink, and use drugs.”

On the other hand, CASA's president says teens whose families eat dinner together are more likely to avoid drinking, smoking, and sexual activity. He believes this suggests the importance of family conversation and the need for parents to connect and talk over issues of concern to their teen children.

“We asked kids what they'd like to talk with their parents about during dinner, honestly, and they said dating practices and substances,” Califano notes, and this leads him to advise that parents, no matter how busy, should try to “have more frequent dinners with their kids” and make a priority of mealtime discussions with their teens.

CASA is promoting a “Family Day,” to be observed the fourth Monday of next month (September 27). The event has been set aside not only as a day for parents to have dinner with their kids, but also to remind mothers and fathers how important parental engagement is in the effort to prevent teen substance abuse and raise healthier children.

(This article courtesy of Agape Press).

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