Parental attitudes toward drugs more mellow

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 28, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) - While today's parents were more likely to have used drugs than in previous generations, they see less risk in drug experimentation and are less likely to speak with their children about it, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The study of parental attitudes toward teen drug use, conducted by The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, found that barely half of the parents would be upset if their children experimented with marijuana.

The number of parents who have never spoken with their children about drugs was 12 percent, double what it was just six years ago, the survey found.

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While most parents no longer use drugs - 11 percent reported marijuana use in the last year - they still carry attitudes fostered during their teen years, researchers found. This is particularly true about parents who were teenagers in the late '70s and early '80s, when teen drug use was at a high point.

''While the vast majority of parents have left old habits behind, they're carrying old attitudes and beliefs forward,'' said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership. ''If old habits die hard, the data suggests lax attitudes about drugs die even harder.''

Among other findings in the survey:

4While parents believe it's important to discuss drugs with their children, only about three in 10 children say they've learned a lot about drug risks at home.

4Only 18 percent of parents believe their children have smoked marijuana, but the number of teens experimenting with it is 39 percent.

4Just 21 percent of parents believe friends of their teen are smoking marijuana, but 62 percent of teens report friends who use the drug.

The study was conducted among 1,205 parents nationwide, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points. The survey was conducted in households with children under the age of 18.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, launched in 1987, is a coalition of communications professionals aimed at reducing the demand for illegal drugs.