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There is encouraging news from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It appears that illicit teen drug use statistics are showing a downward trend. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, which has been tracking teen drug use since the 1970's, "The improvement so far is very modest, but at least the troublesome trends observed through most of the 1990's have begun to reverse direction." The troublesome trend is in reference to six years of steady increases in drug use among teenagers between 1991 and 1996.
The current trend relates to how young people perceive drugs. Many teens are reassessing the dangers and social acceptability of drugs. This may be due in part to the increased attention being paid to the issue of drugs by parents, community groups, the media, and the government. However, the abuse of prescription drugs, especially pain relievers is increasing. Many teenagers assume that prescription drugs are safe, when in fact they are highly addictive and can cause severe side effects.
Parents and families face one of the most difficult battles in today's society ? that of raising drug free children. Communication is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal in keeping our kids off drugs. Yet for some reason, it is the most feared, and is seldom used. We as parents, educators, and supportive organizations, must set the tone, set the standards, and set the societal norm. We must talk to our children on a continuing basis about the dangers of drugs, and be active participants in their lives. Together we can change the face of drug addiction in our communities.
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