The risk that teens will smoke, get drunk and use illegal drugs rises sharply if they are highly stressed, frequently bored or have substantial spending money, says the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. It was the first time that the center’s eight-year-old survey measured the impact of those characteristics on the likelihood of teen substance abuse.
The main findings:
* High stress teens are twice as likely as low stress teens to smoke, drink, get drunk and use illegal drugs.
* Often bored teens are 50 percent likelier than others to engage in the same kinds of substance abuse.
* Teens with $25 or more each week in spending money are nearly twice as likely as other teens to smoke, drink and use illegal drugs, and more than twice as likely to get drunk.
* 52 percent of 12-to-17 year olds are at greater risk of substance abuse because of high stress, frequent boredom, too much spending money, or some combination of these characteristics.
Center president Joseph A. Califano, Jr., called the problems “a catastrophe that can be avoided through parental engagement. Parents must be sensitive to the stress in their children’s lives, understand why they are bored and limit their spending money.”
The survey also found that 20 percent of 12-to-17 year olds (20 percent) can buy marijuana in an hour or less; another 19 can buy it within a day.