What parents should not tell teens about drug abuse highlighted in study
Past studies have suggested parents who deliver anti-drug messages to teens should also talk about their own past drug abuse. New research published in Human Communication Research suggests a better approach is not to share that information.
The finding comes from surveys of 500 European American and Latino children in grades 6 to 8.
The investigators found talking to children about negative consequences of alcohol, marijuana and other substances and setting rules is more effective than telling kids about your own past drug use.
Children whose parents disclosed their own past substance use were less likely to have anti-drug attitudes, the study found.
Jennifer A. Kam, at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who co-authored the study said parents may want to “re-think” disclosing their own drug use history to teens in a press release.
She also says it’s important to remember the study is one of the first to look at children’s perceptions and behaviors relative to parents past drug use.
What parents can do to help teens avoid drug abuse
The finding may be especially important, given findings published last year that prescription drug use for non-medical purposes is on the rise among adolescents.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends that parents talk to their teens about all forms of drug abuse including tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, inhalants, prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications.
Monitoring for signs of substance abuse is crucial for prevention.
They also recommend community based programs that target specific drug problems that are gender, ethnicity and age specific for targeted populations.
Proactive parents should be educated about signs of substance abuse and enhance parenting skills to help form strong bonds and open communication with teens through local programs.
According to the Mayo Clinic, your child may be at risk for drug abuse from low-self-esteem, socializing with other children who use drugs, poor grades in school and history of aggressive behavior.
Teens with ADHD, depression and anxiety are also at higher risk for using illicit drugs.
Parents who set rules and share stories of others who have gotten into trouble from drug abuse might have more success helping teens stay clear of illicit substances, suggested by the study.
Human Communication Research
January 25, 2013
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