Parent Attitude towards Drinking Influences Teen Use

Parent Attitude towards Drinking Influences Teen Use

Understanding those influences that cause a teenager to drink, smoke or do drugs is an important step to developing effective prevention and treatment programs. New research highlights the impact smoking tobacco has on the likelihood of using other substances.

Science Daily posted a release that examined research by Weill Cornell Medical College. In this study, researchers looked at the specific ways parents and peers influence teenagers to smoke, drink and use marijuana in combination.

One surprising finding in their research was that the attitudes toward smoking greatly influenced a teenagers’ use of multiple drugs, including smoking, drinking and marijuana. In addition, this influence manifested itself differently in boys and girls.

For females, friends were very obviously central to their influence. When there were ambivalent or permissive attitudes within the female’s social group toward smoking the same was true with poly-drug use – two or more of such behaviors as smoking, drinking and marijuana use. Predicted use in males was guided by the extent to which they perceived smoking to be prevalent in their larger age group.

"If a teenager feels smoking is socially acceptable and widely practiced, they are much more likely not only to smoke, but to also drink and possibly use marijuana," said lead author Dr. Jennifer A. Epstein, in Science Daily. Epstein is an assistant professor of public health in the Division of Prevention and Health Behavior at Weill Cornell Medical College.

"While the differences between how boys and girls are influenced by these social factors are subtle, they could help us develop new gender-specific educational tactics for preventing these behaviors."

For both boys and girls, when friends drank alcohol or smoked or when parents had permissive or ambivalent attitudes toward drinking, both genders were likely to report poly-drug use. Major variables also included a teen’s inability to refuse drugs and achieve their own goals.

"A parent’s opinion matters. Moms and dads are critical role models and should let their attitudes against drug use be known. It’s also important to keep an eye on their child’s social circle, since, especially for girls, it’s their friends who are so central to influencing their behavior," says Dr. Epstein.

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