While drugs are the number one concern for teenagers, parents underestimate how important this issue is to teens, according to data from a national telephone survey.

More than one-fourth of youths aged 12 to 17 reported that alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs were the most important problem facing people their age. Yet only 12% of parents of teenagers reported that drugs were the most important problem facing teenagers. In contrast, parents overestimated teens' concerns with social pressures - 58% of parents said that social pressures were the number one concern of teens, compared to only 21% of teenagers. Previous research has found that parents also underestimate the level of alcohol and illicit drug use by youth.

Teens were asked “What is the most important problem facing people your age that is, the thing which concerns you the most?” Parents were asked “And from the point of view of teenagers like your own, what do you think is the most important problem someone their age faces?” Both questions were open-ended. Additional responses not included in the above figures include mental wellbeing, moral values, and economics (for teenagers) and gaining independence, acceptance of self, and making good decisions (for parents).

This information proves why it is important to have honest conversations with your student. Some parents feel uncomfortable or aren't sure how to talk about alcohol and drugs with their teen. We've compiled resources to help you through this necessary conversation as well as ways to promote healthy behavior. Also, we're your resource. Please reach out to SAPE if you have questions.

tips on how to talk to your child about substance use and engaging in healthy behaviors in college

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