Sex, Drugs and Alcohol Popular with Some Teens on Online Message Boards

Study uncovers teens posting tips on using illicit drugs and hooking up

while drunk

Jun 19, 2007, 01:00 ET from Caron Treatment Centers

    WERNERSVILLE, Pa., June 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Parents who think
 their teens' online conversations with their peers are innocent may want to
 reconsider. A new Caron Treatment Centers qualitative study conducted by
 Nielsen BuzzMetrics found that 1 in 10 messages analyzed involved teens
 seeking advice from their peers on how to take illicit drugs "safely" and
 without getting caught. The messages were posted on common online message
 boards, forums and social networks, such as, and, among others.
     The study also found that in messages about alcohol, hooking up and
 having sex when drinking were the top behaviors discussed by teens. While a
 few teens expressed regret over things they did while drunk, many chalked
 it up to "fun," "being wasted" and "having a good time." While both genders
 discussed hooking up and sex, more girls than boys talked about it, where
 gender was identifiable.
     More than 160,000 of the 10.3 million messages posted by teens were
 about drugs or alcohol. Despite increased focus on drug trends, such as
 abuse of prescription medications like oxycontin and club favorites like
 ecstasy, less "trendy" substances were more commonly discussed. Almost 80
 percent of the messages posted by teens mentioned alcohol, marijuana,
 cocaine and acid/LSD.
     "While much attention has been given to adult sexual predators preying
 on teens online, it's important for parents to know that their teen's
 conversations with peers can be equally dangerous," said David Rotenberg,
 executive director of Adolescent Services at Caron, the industry's leading
 authority on adolescent addiction treatment. "This study and our teen
 glossary will provide parents with the tools needed to better understand
 how to talk to their teens about drugs and alcohol."
     Caron's review of online teen talk around alcohol and drugs was
 prompted by concerns from adolescent counselors at the Pennsylvania-based
 rehab facility. Teens mentioned how easily and freely they could chat with
 peers online about drugs and alcohol -- and how falling in with the wrong
 "virtual crowd" often proved as destructive as a "real life" group.
     "It used to be enough for parents to know their teens' friends," said
 Doug Tieman, President and CEO of Caron. "However, the online revolution
 requires parents to be much more sophisticated in terms of understanding
 not only how their teens are spending time online, but also what they are
 talking about."
     Other findings from the study include:
     Teen Behaviors
     Teens confess that they engage in destructive behaviors when under the
 influence of drugs and alcohol.
     -- Teens said that parties are more fun when alcohol is available or if
        they are already drunk. 1 in 10 messages about alcohol featured teens
        talking about drinking when partying. They frequently mentioned "pre-
        game," a popular term used to describe the practice of getting drunk
        before parties.
     -- The most prevalent theme in marijuana messages was destructive
        behaviors, such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, cutting class
        or self mutilation while high.
     Teen Relationships
     Teens are concerned about how drugs and alcohol affect their
 relationships with family and friends.
     -- In those messages that gender was identifiable, more girls than boys
        discussed alcohol online. Girls talked about romantic relationships and
        hooking up/having sex when drinking. Boys shared information and
        stories about drunken experiences.
     -- Teens were concerned about friends and loved ones who are drinking
        alcohol or smoking marijuana (This was the second most prevalent
        marijuana discussion and the sixth most prevalent alcohol discussion).
        More girls than boys voiced their concern, generally for a boyfriend or
     In response to the findings, Caron has created a "teen speak" glossary
 of common slang terms for drugs and alcohol online. It will be posted on
 the Caron Web site,, along with parenting tips for talking to
 teens about online activities and drugs/alcohol.
     Caron Treatment Centers
     Caron Treatment Centers is a nationally recognized non-profit provider
 of alcohol and drug addiction treatment. Now celebrating its 50th
 anniversary, Caron offers primary, relapse and extended residential
 treatment for adults and adolescents, as well as families affected by the
 disease of addiction. Caron's programs are gender separate and gender
 specific. Caron has extensive experience in the treatment of co-occurring
 psychological/psychiatric disorders within our patient community. Nearly 86
 percent of adolescent patients treated at Caron have co-occurring
 disorders. Formerly the Caron Foundation, Caron Treatment Centers operates
 a residential treatment center in Wernersville, in southeastern
 Pennsylvania; a regional office in Philadelphia; Renaissance Institute of
 Palm Beach, an extended care treatment center in Boca Raton, Florida; and a
 recovery center in New York City. For more information, visit
     Study Methodology
     For the study, Nielsen BuzzMetrics used proprietary software and
 analytic methodology to tap into the unaided conversations teens have in
 online communities, including web message boards, discussion forums and
 blogs. Analysts used a combination of automated and manual techniques to
 identify individual communities that include teen focused discussion and
 discussion on drugs and alcohol use. The analysts then gained insight into
 how teens discuss drugs and alcohol online.

SOURCE Caron Treatment Centers