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 GoodTherapy.org.
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