Health Care Professionals and Families Must Focus on Youth Substance Use Prevention

The peer-reviewed journal JAMA Network Open asked Robert L. DuPont, MD and Caroline DuPont, MD, President and Vice President, respectively, of IBH, to respond to a new research study by Bertha K. Madras, et al., "Associations of parental marijuana use with offspring marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol use and opioid misuse."In their commentary, Drs. DuPont note that this study showed that when parents used marijuana, their children had increased risk of using marijuana too. "This underscores the need for engagement by both parents and health care professionals in youth substance use prevention and parental substance use disorder treatment." Drs. DuPont then connect the findings to IBH's own youth prevention work:The association of parent use of marijuana with offspring use of marijuana and tobacco complements a recent finding suggesting that there is a common liability for substance use among adolescents. Among young people aged 12 to 17 years, the use of one substance is positively associated with the use of others, and non-use of any one substance is positively associated with non-use of others. There is also evidence that there is a large and steadily increasing number of American youth who do not use any substances, including alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana. More than half (52%) of high school seniors have not used any substance in the past month and more than one-quarter (26%) have not used any substance in their lifetime, up from lows in 1982 of 16% and 3%, respectively. Together, these facts can empower parents when they are educated about their own substance use choices affecting the risks of their children using substances. They can also inform health care professionals that no use of alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, or other drugs is not only the health standard for youth but that non-use by young patients is common and achievable. This commentary extends the work of IBH to set a new health standard for youth prevention of One Choice: no use of any alcohol, nicotine, marijuana or other drugs by youth under age 21. Drs. DuPont and the IBH team thank Madras, et al. for their important contribution in JAMA Network Open and thank the journal for the opportunity to share their insights on its implications for prevention and treatment.