Blame the Lindsay Lohan-effect, realty TV shows chronicling the lives of drunken 20-somethings on a downward spiral or the increasing availability of prescription drugs. Whatever the reason, the outcome is the same: Teenage girls are more likely than boys to perceive potential benefits from drug and alcohol use.
Alcohol and drug use increased last year after a decade-long decline, according to the 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study. New data released yesterday from the national survey shows not only are girls drinking more than boys, but they’re also using alcohol to relieve stress or avoid problems. The survey found:
- More than two-thirds of teen girls responded positively to the statement “using drugs helps kids deal with problems at home," an 11 percent increase from 2008.
- More than half of teen girls reported that drugs help teens forget their troubles, a 10 percent increase from 2008.
- Girls are more likely than boys to associate “self-medicating” benefits with drinking and getting high.
- Alcohol use among teen girls increased 11 percent, from 53 percent in 2008 to 59 percent in 2009 - significantly higher, when compared to the increase in boys’ drinking over the same time period.
- Teen girls’ social disapproval of overall illegal drug use by their friends also decreased with only 33 percent reporting they “don’t want to hang around drug users,” down from 38 percent who agreed in 2008.
Such findings are particularly alarming considering recent research showing teen drinking may result in irreversible brain damage.