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Think your kid hasn't used drugs? Think again Add to ...

Think your child would never experiment with drugs? You're not alone. Seventy per cent of Canadian parents with children aged 12 to 17 say they believe their child has never tried drugs, according to a new survey released Monday by the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse. Even more parents, or about 80 per cent, say they would recognize drug use in a person close to them.

Yet, a study published last year from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health suggests that about one-third of 15 -to 17-year-olds and nearly half of 18- to 19-year-olds have tried marijuana in the past year. The study also showed children as young as 11 have experimented with marijuana. This suggests some parents may have a false sense of security when it comes to their child and drugs and should be a "wake-up call" for all parents to talk to their kids about substance abuse, according to CCSA's CEO Michael Perron.

"The fact is, far more kids are experimenting with drugs than most parents think," he said in a statement.

Prescription drugs are one of the biggest sources of concern, according to CCSA. The group's survey, conducted by Harris/Decima, found one in five Canadians have prescription drugs in their medicine cabinet and that nearly all (92 per cent) believe their child has never stolen a prescription drug from home.

But last year's CAMH Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey found nearly 20 per cent of students between Grades 7 and 12 had taken prescription drugs for non-medicinal purposes. Three-quarters of those had taken the drug from home.

Parents need to be diligent and lock up prescription medications in order to prevent kids from abusing them, Mr. Perron said.

The survey also found parents would have varying levels of concern depending on the type of drug their child has used. For instance, only 76 per cent of parents said they would be concerned to learn their child had tried marijuana, while 91 per cent would be worried if their child had tried cocaine or ecstasy. Similarly, only 80 per cent of parents would be worried if their child had abuse a prescription drug, such as Percocet, Oxycontin or Tylenol 3, the survey found, highlighting a lack of understanding about the harmful effect these drugs have, according to CCSA.

"All of these drugs can have harmful effects, especially in adolescents whose brains are still developing," Mr. Perron said.

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