New Study: Teen Drug and Alcohol Use Declining – Suncoast Rehabilitation Center Says Results Indicate Drug Education Could be Working

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A recent survey of the nation's teenagers has reported that the use of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs by teenagers is on the decline – a trend which Suncoast Rehab maintains could be a strong indication that anti-drug messages are getting through to the younger generation.

Suncoast Rehabilitation Center highlights a study which found that drug and substance abuse is declining among teens.

It is vital that parents take a proactive approach and maintain an open dialogue about the harms of drug and alcohol abuse with their kids.

According to the latest Monitoring the Future survey released in December 2014 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), children are smoking fewer cigarettes, drinking less alcohol and abusing fewer prescription and synthetic drugs. Monitoring the Future has been studying the behaviors, attitudes and values of American secondary school students, college students and young adults since 1975 and each year, approximately 50,000 eighth, tenth and twelfth grade students are surveyed (1). Tammy Strickling, the executive director of substance abuse treatment facility Suncoast Rehabilitation Center, attributes the decline in drug and alcohol use among young adults to an increase in drug education campaigns and raised awareness about the dangers of drug and substance abuse.

The results of the 2014 Monitoring the Future survey showed a declining use of alcohol in all grades; there was also a significant five-year drop in binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row in the previous two weeks) by high school seniors. Illicit drug use of any kind has generally declined over the past two decades. The combined past-year illicit drug use for all grades was a combined 27.2%, compared to a combined 34.1% at its peak in 1997. Additionally, the survey showed a decrease in the perceived availability of most substances over the past few years (2).

Monitoring the Future reported no increase in the use of marijuana, even as more states are legalizing the drug. However, according to the survey, many teens are reporting a lower perceived harm of marijuana. A majority of high school seniors do not think occasional marijuana smoking is harmful, with only 36.1% reporting they think regular use puts the user at great risk. This number is down from 39.5% in 2013 and 52.4% in 2009 (2). Strickling says this is noteworthy as a lowered perceived harm could lead to a future increase in the use of marijuana amongst children and teens – as a result, she stresses the immediacy of continued drug education on the harms of marijuana.

“While the results of the survey have been positive, it is clear that there is much more work to do,” says Strickling. “It is vital that parents take a proactive approach and maintain an open dialogue about the harms of drug and alcohol abuse with their kids.”

Stickling suggests that parents speak openly with their children, beginning before they reach teenage years, about the dangers of drug abuse, and set clear standards for what is expected of their children’s behavior with regard to drugs and alcohol – she offers the following tips on how to talk with kids about drug use:

  • Start at an early age. While it is important to have an ongoing dialogue with your child at any age, it is best to teach your child to make good choices early on. Ingraining your child with positive values can prevent them from making negative choices later on.
  • Make sure your child knows that you are a safe person to come to for help. If your child feels you can be trusted, the more likely he or she will turn to you if presented with a dangerous situation. Make sure your child knows you will always be there, no matter what.
  • Have an honest dialogue. There are so many reasons why young adults should not take drugs or alcohol, but “because I said so” is not one of them. Honestly inform your child about the risks that come with taking drugs and alcohol. And this communication should start before your child is a teenager.
  • Remind them that even prescription drugs can be abused. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teens consider narcotic pain relievers such as OxyContin and Vicodin safer than illicit drugs because they are prescribed by doctors (3). Let them know that this is not necessarily the case, and even doctor prescribed medications can lead to addiction.
  • Fully inform teens of the risks involved in drug and alcohol use. While a teen may try drugs or alcohol because they seem like “fun” at the time, make sure your child is fully aware that his or her actions have consequences.
  • If you are abusing drugs yourself, seek help. Remember, as a parent you are a role model for your child. If you are abusing drugs or alcohol, make sure you set a good example for your child and seek out a valid drug treatment program.

An addiction to drugs, alcohol or other substances requires treatment from a qualified rehabilitation program that will address and handle all aspects of the person’s addiction. For more information about Suncoast Rehab Center and its commitment to supporting recovering addicts, visit

About Suncoast Rehab Center:

Located in Spring Hill, Florida, with a 76% success rate, Suncoast Rehab Center provides long-term residential treatment, physical detoxification, life skills and cognitive therapy and counseling. Suncoast is licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, and was recently awarded a 100% inspection score for the fourth year in a row. Suncoast has a mission to educate youth and adults about drugs and the dangers of drugs, with the aim of preventing future drug use and abuse. Suncoast handles the physical deficiencies, weakness and problems created through drug use, without the use of additional drugs. Clients are helped to uncover the issues that led to their drug use through counseling, therapy and life skills that put the client back in control of his/her life and future. Suncoast’s purpose in drug rehabilitation is to heal the whole person and give the person tools and education to remain drug–free. For more information, visit

1. "Welcome to the MTF Website." Monitoring the Future, 16 Dec. 2014. Web. 13 Jan. 2015.

2. "DrugFacts: High School and Youth Trends." National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dec. 2014. Web. 11 Jan. 2015.

3. Leger, Donna L. "Survey: Teen Marijuana Use Declines Even as States Legalize." USA Today. Gannett, 16 Dec. 2014. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.

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