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Episode 6: Teen Drug and Alcohol Use, Abuse

Recent trends indicate that teens are more likely to think it’s OK to get drunk or use marijuana and other drugs. Prevention advocates are issuing a wake-up call to parents in this month’s Science of Parenting radio program podcast.

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Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Prevent your child from using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs

Parents: You can help prevent your child from using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

Research consistently demonstrates that parents are extremely important in preventing youth alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use. For instance, parents who talk to their child about substance use and about everyday events can protect their child from using substances. According the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), children are less likely to use substances when they remember their parents talking to them about their disapproval of using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Youth who also believe their parents are involved in their activities are less likely to use drugs. Key research findings demonstrate that it is the youth’s perception of whether or not their parents are talking to them about daily activities or expressing disapproval of drug use that prevents them from using substances, as opposed to parents’ perceptions of these discussions. Often times, parents do not reiterate these conversations with their children, which can cause children to disregard, or not remember, the important messages.

Evidence shows that parents can also reduce their child’s substance use by:

  • Working together to communicate rules, boundaries, and values to their child
  • Knowing their child’s friends and friends’ parents
  • Being a good role model
  • Keeping apprised of their child’s whereabouts and activities
  • Eating family meals together
  • Spending time together as a family
  • Understanding their child’s developmental stages to effectively parent

In summary, a parent is an extremely important influence in his or her child’s life. Parents should talk to their children daily, know who their children’s peers are, know where their children are going, and discuss disapproval of alcohol and other drug use somewhat frequently.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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