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High-Risk Teens, Parents Underreport Illicit Drug Use

Teen hair analysis 52 times more likely to identify cocaine use than teen confidential self-report

MONDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Self-reports of illicit drug use by high-risk teens and reports of teen drug use by parents are substantially lower than actual drug use as determined objectively by analysis of hair samples, according to a study published online Oct. 25 in Pediatrics.

Virginia Delaney-Black, M.D., of Wayne State University in Detroit, and colleagues assessed drug use among more than 400 high-risk teenagers and parents using confidential teen self-report, confidential parental report of teen drug use, and analysis of teen hair samples for cocaine, opiates, and marijuana.

The researchers found that both teens and parents substantially underreported teen use of cocaine and opiates. Teen hair analysis was 52 times more likely than self-report to identify cocaine use. For parents, hair analyses for cocaine and opiates were 6.5 and 5.5 times more likely, respectively, to identify drug use than parental self-report.

"The lack of concordance between teen self- or parent-reported teen drug use and biomarkers confirm our concerns that both teen- and parent-reported teen drug use is limited, at least for youth in high-risk urban settings. Methods of ascertainment other than self- or parent-report must be considered when health care providers, researchers, and public health agencies attempt to estimate teen drug-use prevalence," the authors write.

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