Older Boyfriends May Be Trouble; Survey Finds Teen Girls with Senior Dates Likely to Drink, Use Drugs

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 20, 2004 | Go to article overview

Older Boyfriends May Be Trouble; Survey Finds Teen Girls with Senior Dates Likely to Drink, Use Drugs


Byline: Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Teenage girls with boyfriends two or more years older than them are more likely to smoke, drink or use illicit drugs than those whose boyfriends are less than two years older or who do not have a boyfriend, according to a survey released yesterday.

The annual back-to-school survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University in New York also found that the more sexually active friends a teen has and the more time a teen spends with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the greater the risk that a teen will try cigarettes, drugs or alcohol.

"We're not saying that sexual activity causes substance abuse or vice versa, although there is plenty of research that shows drugs are sexually disinhibiting," CASA chairman and president Joseph A. Califano Jr., who served as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare during the Carter administration, said yesterday.

But he said the findings should inform parents that daughters with older boyfriends and "kids running with sexually active friends are much more likely" to drink, try marijuana and smoke cigarettes than those with younger romantic interests and those with friends who are not engaged in sex.

"The message for parents ... is clear: The thunder of teen sexual activity and dating behavior may signal the lightning of substance abuse ... this year's survey reveals a tight connection between teen sexual behavior and substance abuse," Mr. Califano wrote in an introduction to the 2004 National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse IX: Teen Dating Practices and Sexual Activity.

"We're trying to give parents some markers to alert them," he said yesterday.

The CASA survey was based on telephone interviews of 1,000 youth ages 12 to 17, conducted by QVC Analytics April 16 to May 16. …

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