October 28, 2010

Some Teens, Parents Not Honest About Drug Use

There is much variation between the number of teens who admit to using drugs and the number who actually test positive for drug use, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

With cocaine use, teens' hair samples were 52 times more likely to test positive for the drug than teens were to admit they were actually using, despite being assured the study was confidential.

But researchers say parents should not be quick to reprimand their kids, as their hair samples revealed cocaine or opiate drug use more than five times as often as they admitted themselves.

"It's human nature to not want to share things that you know other people will be unhappy with," study author Dr. Virginia Delaney-Black, of Wayne State University, told Reuters Health.

"I'm not surprised," she said.

Previous studies found that adults often underreport their own drug use. As the new study shows, however, parents were more honest than their children, for the most part.

In the new study, Delaney-Black and her team asked more than 400 black teenagers from poor neighborhoods whether they used cocaine or opiates, such as heroin.

They also asked their parents if they believed their teens were using drugs, and if they were using them as well. The team then tested hair samples from both teens and parents.

None of the teens said they were using opiates, yet almost seven percent of them tested positive for the drug. Less than one percent admitted to using cocaine, but researchers found traces of the drug in a third of all the hair samples. With both drugs, parents underestimated their own and their children's usage.

Addiction experts should realize and understand that self-reporting is not enough when it comes to drug use, said Delaney-Black. "You can't rely upon either what the parents know or what the child tells you."

The study, though, only concentrated on high-risk urban areas and could not account for all youngsters around the country, Delaney-Black noted. Also, some teens that test positive could be ingesting it without knowing, for example, by inhaling smoke from a nearby user.


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