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Teen Boredom, Destructive Behavior

A new survey finds the risk that teens will smoke, drink, get drunk and use illegal drugs increases sharply if they are highly stressed, frequently bored or have substantial amounts of spending money.

Joseph Califano, the chairman and president of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, visited The Early Show to discuss the survey's findings and shared tips on how parents can lower the risk of teen substance abuse.

The survey, which was conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found the following:

  • High stress teens are twice as likely as low stress teens to smoke, drink, get drunk and use illegal drugs.
  • Often bored teens are 50 percent likelier than teens not often bored to smoke, drink, get drunk and use illegal drugs.
  • Teens with $25 or more a week in spending money are nearly twice as likely as teens with less to smoke, drink and use illegal drugs, and more than twice as likely to get drunk.
  • Teens exhibiting two or three of these characteristics are at more than three times the risk of substance abuse as those exhibiting none of these characteristics.
  • More than half the nation's 12 to 17-year-olds, or 52 percent, are at greater risk of substance abuse because of high stress, frequent boredom, too much spending money or some combination of these characteristics.

Califano gave the following tips for parents to reduce teen risk:

  • Be sensitive to the stress in your children's lives and help them cope.
  • Understand when and why your children are bored and help relieve their boredom.
  • Limit the amount of money your children have to spend and monitor how that money is spent.
  • Know who your children's friends are.
  • Be engaged in your children's lives: help them with their homework, attend their sports events, participate in activities together and talk to them about drugs.
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