Page last updated at 10:34 GMT, Sunday, 5 October 2008 11:34 UK

Parents 'under drugs suspicion'

A syringe and spoon used for drug-taking
Addaction says one in five families in the UK is affected by drugs

One in five children thinks their parents have tried drugs and one in 10 believes they still take them, a survey in England and Scotland suggests.

Some 90% of the 500 teenagers polled by charity Addaction said they were "against" drugs, but one in 10 thought celebrities made drugs seem "cool".

Of 2,000 adults polled, 63% worried that stories about celebrity drug-taking would influence children.

Addaction said it wanted to "improve dialogue" within families about drugs.

The charity is launching a 10m appeal to help young people struggling with substance abuse - either their own or that of someone close to them.

'Rave generation'

The majority (59%) of the 14 to 18-year-olds polled said their parents "understand about drugs".

Addaction said the survey reveals signs that the generation gap is closing between parents and their children on drugs.

People shouldn't be reluctant to seek support when they can no longer cope
Deborah Cameron, Addaction

Deborah Cameron, chief executive of Addaction, said: "Parents are more familiar with drugs than they were in the past - the rave generation of the 80's have now grown up and become parents.

"This should give us the basis for more realistic discussions between parents and children about drugs, but our concern is that the demonisation of these issues often means the debate takes place in a moral panic."

The survey also suggests:

  • Nine out of 10 young people feel under "little or no pressure" to take drugs when with friends
  • Two-thirds of adults think illegal drug use among young people is increasing and three-quarters believe the government is not doing enough to tackle it
  • Some 22% of parents think other people's children are taking drugs, but only 1% believe their own are doing it
  • Only one in 10 young people would tell their parents first if they were using drugs

Ms Cameron said: "The vast majority of young people do not take drugs and drink themselves senseless.

"Neither are they unduly influenced by their favourite celebrities taking drugs, as this survey shows. But there are still problems - as many as one in five families are now affected by a family member's drug use.


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"We want to encourage a much more open dialogue within families about drugs and alcohol. Good lines of communication can prevent problems from snowballing.

"And people shouldn't be reluctant to seek support when they can no longer cope."

Addaction is appealing for 10m to provide programmes to support young street drinkers, young people at risk of exclusion from school and children who are living with drug- or alcohol-dependent parents.

Later this month the charity will also launch an online guide to dealing with drug and alcohol problems within the family.

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