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Drug Abuse Tops List of Health Concerns for Children in Recent Adult Study

New data show that, for the first time, parents are more concerned about drug abuse than obesity and smoking when it comes to their children's health.

A recent survey by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health shows that U.S. adults now rate drug abuse as the top health concern for children and worry more about children using drugs than obesity or smoking, which makes talking to kids about drug use an important issue for today’s parents.

According to the survey, drug abuse and childhood obesity are the top health concerns for kids, rated by 33% of adults as big problems. This is the first time that drug abuse is at the top of the list since the annual survey’s inception in 2007. These findings are consistent with recent national data showing increasing use of marijuana and other drugs by U.S. teens.

A renewed focus on drug prevention is a major component of the Obama Administration’s effort to implement a public health approach to reducing drug abuse and its consequences. Recently, ONDCP developed an action plant o address the alarming prescription drug epidemic and revamped the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign to include enhanced community-based activities. Earlier this week, ONDCP also announced more than $88 million in Drug Free Communities Support Program(DFC) funding to 607 community coalitions to help prevent drug use at the local level.

With the recent rise in youth drug use, now is a crucial time for parents and communities to get involved in encouraging safe and healthy decisions. Tips for parents include:

  1. Talk to your kids about drugs.  Research shows parents are the best messengers to deliver critical information on drug use.  Make sure they know of the harms that can result from drug use and that you don't approve of them. 
  2. Learn to spot risk factors that can lead to drug use.  Association with drug-abusing peers is often the most immediate risk factor that can lead young people to drug use and delinquent behavior.  Other risk factors include poor classroom behavior or social skills and academic failure.   Parents can protect their kids from these influences by building strong bonds with their children, staying involved in their lives, and setting clear limits and consistent enforcement of discipline. 
  3. Go through your medicine cabinet.  More than 70 percent of people who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends or family – often from the home medicine cabinet.  Immediately remove unused or unneeded prescription drugs from your medicine cabinet.  Visit the website to learn how to properly dispose of prescription drugs. 

For more information about ONDCP’s ongoing activities:

  1. Prescription drug abuse plan
  2. National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign
  3. Drug Free Community Support Program (DFC)
  4. Community-based prevention