WTAP @ 5 To Your Health Report: Teens And The Truth About Drugs

By: Michael Jones
By: Michael Jones

When it comes to drug use, teens don't want to admit taking them, even if their parents know they are engaged in substance abuse.

But there is a flip side to this story as Michael Jones reports in today's Health Minute.

Even though health experts and parents know that some teens experiment with drugs, many kids often do not voluntarily admit to using illicit drugs, even when they know they will undergo a drug test that could prove it.

In a recent study published in the Journal, Pediatrics, researchers surveyed more than 400 high-risk urban teens from low socio-economic backgrounds.

They also questioned their parents or caretakers, who were mostly female. After asking about drug use in a questionnaire, teen and parent hair samples were tested. The data found that young people were 52-percent more likely to test positive for cocaine in their hair samples than they were to actually report using cocaine on their questionnaires.

But also interesting to investigators, the study found that parents, like their children, significantly underreported their own cocaine use.

Parents were over six times more likely to test positive for cocaine use in a hair sample, and 5 and a half times more likely to test positive for opiates, than they were to report using those drugs in the questionnaire.

The researchers also found that parents played down their teens' drug use, leading the study authors to believe that questioning parents about drugs is not the best way to estimate substance use. They say other test methods are necessary to gauge the real extent of teen drug abuse.

For Today's Health Minute, I'm Michael Jones.

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