Study Examines Substance Abuse Among Pregnant Teens

Despite the media attention, public service announcements, school-based prevention programs and even common sense, teenagers who are pregnant are still abusing drugs and alcohol at disturbing rates. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin explored the link between family involvement and academics when it came to influences over pregnant teens and drugs.

“We found that the odds of substance use were roughly 50 percent lower among pregnant teens reporting consistent parental support and limit-setting, as well as those who expressed strong positive feelings about going to school. This suggests that it makes sense to engage both parents and teachers in efforts to address substance use among pregnant teens,” explained Christopher Salas-Wright, Assistant Professor and lead on the study.

For many pregnant teens, going to one’s parents, teachers or other adult figures may not be something they feel comfortable doing. This is one of the reasons why a more proactive approach from these role models is so necessary in our culture. Young people need experienced, caring adults to help through difficult decisions and situations in life.

Studies show that teenagers who are pregnant also reported an increase in drug and alcohol use during the twelve months prior to getting pregnant. This comes as less of a surprise since it has been well documented that young people and substance abuse breeds promiscuity and unsafe sex. Some good news at least did find that drug and alcohol use declined during the second and third trimesters. Alcohol is the most abused drug for pregnant teens, followed by marijuana and then other street drugs.

Ensuring that a pregnant teenager be stimulated academically and feel a bond from their family prevents more drug use and even more importantly, likely to prevent another generation from growing up using drugs. Stepping in the more prevention programs, better intervention strategies and individually-based treatment plans can help this problem.