Teen Girls More Likely to View Drug, Alcohol Use Positively

More than two-thirds say drugs help with problems at home
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- Teenage girls are more likely than their male counterparts to perceive potential benefits -- including "self-medicating" benefits -- from drug and alcohol use, according to survey data released by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the MetLife Foundation.

Researchers analyzed survey results from 3,287 teenagers in grades nine through 12 in 2009. They found that 68 percent of teen girls responded positively to the statement "using drugs helps kids deal with problems at home," up from 61 percent in 2008, and that 53 percent said drugs help teens forget their troubles, up from 48 percent in 2008. Among teenage boys, a higher percentage in 2009 than in 2008 agreed that "drugs help you relax socially" (52 versus 45 percent) and that "parties are more fun with drugs" (41 versus 34 percent).

In addition, the findings revealed that teenage girls' past-year alcohol use increased from 53 percent in 2008 to 59 percent in 2009, while teen boys' alcohol use increased from 50 to 52 percent, though the increase in boys was not considered significant. Past-year Ecstasy use increased substantially among both sexes, but teen girls are now less likely to consider Ecstasy addictive (82 percent in 2008 versus 77 percent in 2009). Past-year marijuana use increased by 29 percent in teen girls from 2008 to 2009 and 15 percent in teen boys, according to the survey results.

"It's troubling to see that girls view illicit drug use as less dangerous than they previously did and are more likely to drink alcohol," Dennis White, president and CEO of the MetLife Foundation, said in a statement. "For boys and girls alike, however, parents need to know when it's time to act, and how to act when confronted with a substance abuse situation, ensuring they'll be more effective in preventing a serious problem."

The study was sponsored by the MetLife Foundation.

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