Parents are not spending enough time talking to their children about drug use, especially the abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medicines, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The annual survey by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America found that 49 percent of parents of youngsters in grades 7 through 12 reported having frequent discussions with their children about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse in 2006, defined as four or more in the year. That was a decline from the 55 percent who reported having had such conversations in 2005.

Last year's survey by the partnership, a nonprofit organization that formed in 1987 to combat drug abuse, found that one in five teens had abused prescription drugs to get high and one in 10 had abused cough and cold medicines containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan, or DXM.

According to this year's survey, 54 percent of parents reported thoroughly discussing the use of drugs like heroin, cocaine and crack with their kids, but just 36 percent said they had had such conversations about abuse of prescription drugs. For over-the-counter cough and cold remedies the figure was 33 percent.

"The results from this year's survey reveal a critical need to better support, educate, empower and truly help parents feel more prepared and comfortable discussing the current drug issues this generation is facing," said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the partnership.

The partnership announced a new public service campaign including Internet resources, TV ads and a monthly newsletter designed to help parents to talk to their kids about drug use.

"Teens report that foremost among the reasons they don't use drugs is because they don't want to disappoint their parents," said Debbie Kellogg, director of corporate relations for the partnership. "We want to help parents better understand that they are a huge influence on the choices kids make for themselves."

The study surveyed 1,356 parents with children under 19 years old, including 624 with children in grades 7 through 12.

The margin of error for the sample of parents with youngsters in grades 7 through 12 is plus or minus 3.9 percent.