Parent Awareness of Youth Substance
A new SAMHSA study presents data on
just how many parents know about their
children’s drug and alcohol use.
The combined data—based on SAMHSA’s National Survey
on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2002 to 2006—are
presented in a new short report, Parent
Awareness of Youth Use of Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Marijuana.
NSDUH includes a sample of parents and children living
in the same household—that is, a child age 12 to
17 and his or her biological, step, adoptive, or foster
parent—and asks youth and parents about alcohol
and illicit drug use.
Youth were asked if they used these substances during
the past year. Parents were asked whether they thought
their children used these substances during the same
time period. Parents were considered to be “aware” of
their children’s substance use if both the parent
and child in each pair reported that the child used a
specific substance during the past year.
Data from the 2006 NSDUH indicate that in the sample
of youth age 12 to 17, a total of 17.0 percent used cigarettes
in the past year, 32.9 percent used alcohol, and 13.2
percent used marijuana.
Mothers know. According to the report,
mothers were more knowledgeable about
substance use than fathers. Mothers
in one-parent households had the highest
rates of awareness of their child’s
past-year substance use. The next highest
rate of awareness was for mothers in
two-parent households, followed by
fathers in two-parent households.
One-parent or two-parent households. In
general, adolescent substance use was
higher within one-parent households
than within two-parent households. For example, 20.2
percent of youth age 12 to 17 in mother-child pairs within
one-parent households used cigarettes in the past year,
compared with 16.8 percent of youth in mother-child pairs
within two-parent households.
Age. Parent awareness of children’s use of cigarettes
and alcohol increased as the children’s age increased.
For example, only 33.4 percent of mothers
in mother-child pairs with children
age 12 to 14 who used alcohol in the past year were aware
of their children’s
alcohol use. However, 60.5 percent
of mothers with children age 15 to 17 who used alcohol
in the past year were aware of their
To download this report, visit SAMHSA’s Web site
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