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Teen Health

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Lots of Drinks, Drugs at Teen Parties

Parents Often Clueless About Such Abuse Even When Present
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 17, 2006 - A lot of teen parties are "awash with alcohol and drugs," though their parents don't seem to know it, according to a U.S. survey of teens and parents.

The new report is based on a survey of nearly 1,300 teens and 562 parents of teens.

It was done by telephone in March and April for the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, in New York.

"One in three teen partygoers have been to parties where teens were drinking alcohol, smoking pot, or using cocaine, ecstasy, or prescription drugs while a parent was present," CASA chairman and president Joseph A. Califano, Jr., says in the report.

"By age 17, nearly half (46%) of teens have been at such parties where parents were present," adds Califano, a former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.

The parents may not approve of or even know about the parties, the survey also shows.

Parents in Denial?

"The message is loud and clear: Parents, wake up and smell the beer and pot!" states Califano.

"If your teen is having a party at your home, you should not only be there, but also be aware of what is going on," he continues. "And if your teen attends a party at someone else's home, you should confirm that the parents will be present and that alcohol and drugs will not."

"The reality is that even when parents are present at a party, some kids will try to sneak in substances," Califano notes.

"Too many parents fail to fulfill their responsibility to chaperone their teens' parties, have no idea how drug- and alcohol-infested their teens' world is, and are utterly unrealistic about their own conduct with respect to their children," he says.

"The lack of involvement, denial and self-delusion of these parental palookas puts their teens at enormous risk of drinking and using illegal substances," says Califano.

About the Survey

Nearly 600 boys and about 700 girls age 12-17 took part. Most of the 562 parents had a teen taking the survey (84%).

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