Report Shows Parents Unaware of Children’s Ecstasy Use
While nearly 3 million teenagers in America have already tried the club drug Ecstasy, only one percent of parents believe their son or daughter is among them – and half of all parents are unclear about the effects of the so-called ‘love drug,’ according to a national survey by the Partnership for Drug-Free America (PDFA).
The 2001-2002 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) surveyed 1,219 parents across the country from December 2001 to January 2002. (Margin of error + / -2.8 percent. Data are nationally projectable.) This is the 14th installment of parents data fielded for the PATS study since
1987. Top line findings include the following:
- Spreading the word: 92 percent of all parents have heard about Ecstasy. Parents of children in grades 7 to 12 are more likely to have heard about Ecstasy (93 percent) than parents of younger children in grades 4 to 6 (89 percent).
- Instilling the meaning: One of every two parents in America (49 percent) is unclear about Ecstasy’s effects on users. Some 60 percent of all parents are unsure of what is in the drug.
- Not acknowledging the risk to their children: With 12 percent of teenagers in the country (2.8 million teens) reporting use of Ecstasy, the study released today shows that only one percent of parents believe their teen might have tried the drug. (Teen use of Ecstasy has jumped 71 percent since 1999- and is now equal to or greater than adolescent consumption of cocaine, crack, heroin, LSD and metbampheta mine.)
- Parent & teen perceptions far apart: Parents underestimate the availability of Ecstasy to teenagers, and overestimate the degree of risk teens associate with the drug. Almost three out of four parents (72 percent) believe their teen sees great risk in using Ecstasy once or twice. (Just 42 percent of teens agree.) Some 41 percent of parents think Ecstasy would be very or fairly difficult for their teen to get. (Just 26 percent of teens agree.)
- More reminders, more talks: Exposure to anti-drug ads correlate with frequent parent-child communication about drugs. Among parents who reported seeing or hearing an anti-drug message every day or more, 55 percent talk frequently. Among parents exposed to fewer messages, 44 percent talk frequently.
- Ecstasy-specific talks: Among the drugs parents talk ‘a lot’ about with teenagers, parents were more likely to discuss inhalants (36 percent)
- cocaine/crack (48 percent); marijuana (60 percent) and alcohol (70 percent) than Ecstasy (29 percent).
‘Kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs at home are less likely to try drugs’ Pasierb said. “Yet millions of parents sincerely don’t believe that their kids are the ones experimenting with drugs like Ecstasy. It’s these assumptions that enable drug use to go undetected. rf you’re a parent hearing this, the question we beg you to consider is ‘Could this be me?”
Ecstasy–chemically known as 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA – is a synthetic, psychoactive drug with amphetamine-like and hallucinogenic properties. Taken orally in pill form, Ecstasy can be extremely dangerous, especially in high doses. Ecstasy accelerates the release of serotonin in the brain, producing an intense high, often characterized by extreme feelings of love and acceptance – ‘the very emotions teens crave the most,” Pasierb said. Ecstasy can cause dramatic increases in body temperature and can lead to muscle breakdown, as well as kidney and cardiovascular system failure, as reported in some fatalities. A growing body of research has found Ecstasy to be neurotoxic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, MDMA can damage the neurons that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons.
As reported by the Partnership’s research and other studies, Ecstasy use has increased significantly across the country. Partnership research indicates that older teens (16-17) are more likely to experiment with Ecstasy than are younger teens (13-15); most users are boys, but by a slim margin. Unlike methamphetamine and other drugs that are more regional in nature, Ecstasy is a drug that has been found in major cities and small towns throughout America, with noteworthy emergence in locations as diverse as Baltimore, Maryland and Billings, Montana. (See “Pulse Check” findings.) Emergency room mentions related to Ecstasy increased nearly 13-fold from 421 in 1995 to 5,542 in 2000.