Children heed parents’
drug-abuse advice


Teenagers say buying marijuana is easier than buying beer or cigarettes, according to a national survey.

TEENAGERS for the first time say it is easier for them to buy marijuana than beer or cigarettes, and they are trying marijuana in increasing numbers, according to a national survey of a thousand 12-to-17-year-olds. The report says too many parents have helped make the problem as bad as it is by doing nothing, failing to realize and exert their influence in positive ways.

The importance of parents and older siblings influencing teenagers -- especially during their most impressionable years before age 15 -- is heightened by the ease with which teens can illegally acquire these substances. Twenty-seven percent of the teens said they could buy marijuana in an hour or less, and an additional 8 percent said it would take them a few hours -- less time than it would take for minors to arrange purchase of beer or cigarettes.

The report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse says 25 percent of teenagers report having tried marijuana, up from 21 percent two years ago. The extent of Hawaii teenagers' use of marijuana, alcohol and tobacco previously has been reported to be greater than national levels. That should motivate families in the islands to play a larger role in teenagers' process of deciding whether to try substances that pose a risk to their health.

Families should take particular note that teenagers report being influenced by their parents, but the parents claim helplessness. More than a third of the 541 parents surveyed agree that they have little influence over their teens' decisions about using tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs. Forty-three percent of the parents -- but only 16 percent of the teens themselves -- say future illegal drug use by their teenage children is likely. However, in a 2000 survey, nearly half of the teens who had not tried marijuana credited their parents for their decision to abstain.

Siblings also may not realize the important role they play in their brothers' or sisters' decision about whether to try harmful substances. Two-thirds of the teenagers surveyed said their older brothers or sisters would be "very angry" to find out they were using marijuana. That expectation places those teens at a substantially lower risk of substance abuse than those who think their older siblings would not be very angry, according to the report.

Nearly half of the teens with older siblings say they think they have tried illegal drugs; consequently, those teens are one-and-a-half times more likely than the average teen to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs. The likelihood doubles when the older sibling offers illegal drugs to the teenager or encourages their use.


Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, Publisher

Frank Bridgewater, Editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
Assistant Editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor 529-4762;

Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor, 529-4790;
John Flanagan, Contributing Editor 294-3533;

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