Teen Peer Pressure Turning Tide Against Drug Abuse

02.26.09 | FL News Team

The same peer pressure that once used to get kids into trouble with drugs is now helping them avoid it. An annual survey of 65-hundred teens and pre-teens shows a steep drop-off in illegal drug use in 2008.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America found that while there's no substitute for vigilant parents, it's the kids themselves who are turning the tide. More than 40-percent of the respondents say they tried to talk a friend out of drug use last year.

The biggest drops were for marijuana and methamphetamine. Meth use has tanked by a quarter in just the last three years. A healthy 83-percent of teens see great risk in using meth regularly. More than half say even trying meth once or twice is a no-no.

Marijuana is quickly being relegated to yesteryear status, the drug of aging hippies and not youthful hipsters. Teens and pre-teens who say they've lit up in the last year has dropped 24-percent over the last decade.

Those who admit to smoking pot in the last month now only make up 16-percent of respondents, a 30-percent drop since 1998. More than a third insist they steer clear of their pot-smoking peers, indicating a shift in the drug's social acceptance. 

Parents will be happy to know their nagging and lecturing does sink in. Thirty-seven percent of kids say they learned about the risks of illegal drug use from mom or dad last year. That is a 16-percent jump over 2007, and the biggest leap recorded yet.

The Partnership says kids now need to know more about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs and even over-the-counter cough medicine. Almost one in five teens reported abusing a prescription drug at least once of their lives.

The drugs of choice are prescription pain killers, abused by one in ten teens. Steroid and inhalant use are also popping up on the Partnership's radar as disturbing trends.