Attention Baby Boomers & Generation X: Drug Use Has Changed Since You Were a Teen

As drug testing experts, we hear a lot of excuses as to why testing (in general, or for specific drugs) isn’t needed. Among parents, these might include:

“My teen doesn’t hang out with a bad crowd.”

“There’s no way my kid can get drugs.”

“We live in the suburbs, so drugs aren’t an issue.”

“My child’s too young for drugs to be a concern.”

Unfortunately, many of these are outdated beliefs that stem from a parents’ knowledge of how drug use was in their teenage years. Since the Baby Boomers and Generation X grew up in a different time, their thoughts about how teens use drugs are usually not accurate.

Here are some of the ways teen drug use has changed since then — and why parents need to be aware of these changes!

Shifts in Teen Drug Use

Prescription Medication is a Drug of Choice

While back in the day marijuana and LSD were popular among teens, now, prescription drugs are more widely used. 1 in 5 high schoolers reports use of a prescription medication they did not obtain from a physician. And it’s usually not from a dealer, either — teens are reaching into your medicine cabinet or getting medications from friends and family members.

If you think that prescription drugs are somehow safer to abuse than illict ones, that is also untrue: when not used as intended, prescriptions like OxyContin can prove fatal when not consumed in the correct manner. In fact, it’s projected prescription drugs will overtake automobile accidents as the #1 cause of accidental death in the US.

This is why we encourage parents to take advantage of prescription drug take-back events for safe medication disposal, as well as medication lock boxes and prescription drug testing. Don’t let your teen abuse drugs right under your nose.

Early Use & Abuse

While a generation ago, people’s first drug use occurred around age 15 on average, now the onset of drug use is even lower — 12 or 13. This is dangerous because many parents assume their children are too young for drug use to be a concern, so they don’t properly educate their children, leaving them potentially vulnerable to peer pressure and other drug use triggers. It’s imperative that you talk to your kids about drug use before age 12.

Not Just the Cities & At-Risk Youth

Many parents might think that drug use is only a problem in the inner city and not in suburbia. Or they may believe that if you are middle- or upper-class, drug use won’t affect your teens. Teens in rural and suburban areas are actually just as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as their city-dwelling counterparts — in some cases, they are more likely.

And drug abuse occurs among every ethnicity and economic class. White teens are as likely as African-American teens to abuse drugs, as well as private school vs. public school attendees and athletes vs. non-athletes. Your preconceived notions about what a drug user looks like are probably outdated. Don’t let these stereotypes prevent you from intervening when your teen needs it.

Trust in Test Smartly Labs

If you’re a parent concerned about your teen’s potential drug use, Test Smartly Labs of Kansas City can help. We provide accurate and confidential drug and alcohol testing, including tests for prescription and synthetic drugs.

For more information, call (816) 875-0464.

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