More Teens Are Leaving The Malt Shop For The Beer Cooler

Filed under: In The News, Alcohol & Drugs, Research Reveals: Teens

Don't listen to her, boys and girls! Drinking may seem like the "in thing" now, but this is one cheerleader who's going to find out that Booze Street is a dead end. Credit: Getty Images

America's teens may have fallen off the wagon.

And they were doing so well, too.

For about a decade, statistics showed fewer and fewer teenagers hitting the sauce. Now booze is making a comeback, according to a study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

The study, sponsored by the MetLife Foundation, tracked the number of high school freshmen through seniors who use alcohol. The number of kids who reported drinking alcohol went from 35 in 2008 to 39 percent in 2009.

Meanwhile, the use of Ecstasy rose from 6 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2009. Marijuana use went up from from 32 percent in 2008 to 38 percent in 2009.

The problem is attitude, says Steve Pasierb, the president of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, in a press release.

A growing number of teenagers (45 percent in 2008 and 51 percent in 2009) agree that "being high feels good." The study also showed a 6 percent increase in the number of teenagers who say their friends usually get high at parties.

And that's just hunky dory with them, apparently.

Fewer kids (a drop of 5 percent between 2008 and 2009) say they don't want to hang around druggies.

Such numbers "should put all parents on notice that they have to pay closer attention to their kids' behavior -- especially their social interactions -- and they must take action just as soon as they think their child may be using drugs or drinking," says Pasierb in the press release.

Dennis White, the president of the MetLife Foundation adds that "the earlier parents take steps to address a child's drug or alcohol use, the greater the chance they'll be effective in preventing a serious problem. We need to be sure parents know when it's time to act, and how to act when confronted with a substance abuse situation."

Parents might be part of the problem, says Partnership Chairman Patricia Russo in the release.

The study shows that nearly half (47 percent) of parents either waited to take action or took no action at all when their kids were drinking.

"We're very troubled by this upswing that has implications not just for parents, who are the main focus of the Partnership's efforts, but for the country as a whole," says Russo in the release.

"The United States simply can't afford to let millions of kids struggle through their academic and professional lives hindered by substance abuse," she adds. "Parents and caregivers need to play a more active role in protecting their families, trust their instincts and take immediate action as soon as they sense a problem."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.