Report on Adolescent Perceptions of Substance Abuse Shocks Industry Professionals

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health has been available to the public for a few weeks, but industry experts are just beginning to make their double-takes on the reported information concerning adolescent perceptions of substance abuse. At first, the released data may be pleasing to mental and medical health advocates, seeming to indicate positive trends; coinciding with a declining rate in adolescent smoking, most young respondents reported that smoking a pack or more of cigarettes per day posed a significant health risk. At the same time, however, less than half of respondents agreed that binge drinking was a posed a similar risk, and fewer still reported risks associated with marijuana, cocaine, and LSD use.

Industry analysts suggest that the discrepancies may point to disproportionate coverage of the dangers of tobacco smoking in public and youth outreach programs as compared to those with a concentration on other potentially hazardous substances. While educating youth about difficulties that can arise from different kinds of substance abuse may be a more beneficial focus, there is also a growing concern over a lack of adequate information on the mental health effects of addiction. Some industry professionals suspect that greater attention to this subject may help increase adolescent understanding of substance abuse’s associated dangers.

As the use of some substances rises, including those found in prescription drugs-–some of them given to kids for pre-existing mental health concerns–the need for modernized mental health advocacy and substance abuse awareness programs is becoming ever more clear. While this year’s results have been a win for anti-tobacco agencies, more comprehensive substance abuse efforts are likely to provide a greater service to the nation’s youth.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Jane


    December 19th, 2009 at 10:58 AM

    while campaigning against tobacco use is good,the same kind of enthusiasm should be shown in fighting the use of marijuana and even drinking,especially so in young adults because they can really go overboard in these things.

  • alister


    December 20th, 2009 at 2:22 AM

    I am 20 and see many friends smoking marijuana… I was curious to know why such a large number of youngsters smoke marijuana and asked my friends if they are not afraid of its impact on their health. They replied that there is no evidence which says that it is harmful.

    I didn’t quite believe them, so I looked up over the internet, and to my surprise, I didn’t find any creditable site which says that smoking marijuana has been proven to be harmful to health. And I think this is why many youngsters are drawn to it. If there are ill-effects,they need to be highlighted and brought out to the public…

  • Oliver


    December 20th, 2009 at 5:55 AM

    Totally not surprised with these findings. Kids do not see the dangers associated with drugs in the same way that adults do and we are not doing a good enough job about educating them about those dangers and all of the bad things that can happen to them if this is the course that they choose to take in life. I know that there has been a push for some time now to end teenage smoking, which is great and seems to be getting across to them but we are leaving some other things unspoken and that is providing a real disservice to the future generations.

  • terry wills

    terry wills

    December 21st, 2009 at 5:09 AM

    Some parents are not too comfortable talking to their children regarding drugs and other things…this needs to change, or the numbers taking up drugs will only continue to rise and we will be in a very bad state nation-wide!

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