Month: July 2012

Research Behind the RAAPS Questions (Question #12)

Experimentation with illicit drugs during adolescence is common. Unfortunately, teenagers often fail to see the link between their actions today and the consequences tomorrow. Teenagers often feel indestructible and immune to the negative implications of drug use, such as addiction.

Teenagers abuse a variety of drugs, both legal and illegal. The most commonly used illicit drug among youth in the U.S. is marijuana. As many as 20% of teenagers report using marijuana, and 38.4% report having tried it at least once. Marijuana use is linked to poorer grades. A teen with a “D” average is four times more likely to have used marijuana than a teen with an “A” average. Further, marijuana users are twice as likely to drop out of school than non-users. Cocaine, another illicit drug, is used at least once by 3% of youth.

Some adolescents may experiment with drugs and stop. Others may continue to use occasionally without problems. Some adolescents will develop a dependency, move on to more dangerous drugs, and cause themselves significant harm.

Some ideas you can tell adolescents to reduce drug use include:

  • Removing yourself from situations where drugs may be involved
  • Check in with a friend who is supportive of you not using drugs when you feel the urge to use them
  • Try exercising, listening to music, hanging with friends, or watching a movie to relax or feel good
  • You can always use an excuse to say no. Say things like, “I can’t, I have to go to work soon”, “I already got in huge trouble once for using drugs, I don’t want to deal with that again”, or “I will get kicked off the team if I don’t get it together!”

Research Behind the RAAPS Questions (Question #11)

The pressure to drink alcohol is at its highest during the adolescent years. According to the CDC, more young people in the U.S. use alcohol than tobacco or illicit drugs. Approximately 42% of youth in 9-12th grade reports drinking alcohol within the past month. The younger a person is when he or she starts to drink, the greater the risk for developing alcohol dependence within 10 years of drinking onset. This is particularly alarming as the average age for first time alcohol use is 11 years for boys and 13 years for girls.

Binge drinking – or heavy consumption of alcohol in one sitting – is also a problem for adolescents, with 26% of high school students reporting binge drinking within the past month.  Teens who drink are also more likely to engage in risky behavior, sexual activity, have unprotected sex, have sex with a stranger, or be the victim of perpetrator of a sexual assault. One study found that 23% of students who reported having sexual intercourse during the past three months also reported drinking alcohol or using drugs before their last sexual intercourse experience.

Talk with teens about their alcohol use and give them options for being safe when they find themselves in a situation involving alcohol:

  • Bring your own non-alcohol drink to a party
  • Carry around a cup filled with juice, soda or water
  • Don’t accept drinks from others or leave your drink unattended
  • If you are given a drink with alcohol, go to the bathroom and dump it in the sink
  • Use an excuse to say no such as, I can’t, I have to get up early tomorrow to (work, study,…)”, “I already got in huge trouble once for drinking, I can’t do it again”, or “My parents would kill me!”