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Drug-Free Kids
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Do you think it is important for your children not abuse drugs, alcohol, or tobacco? You are not alone. Most parents do not want their school aged children involved with drugs alcohol, and tobacco. Parents have good instincts. Habits formed in one’s teens follow into adulthood. Studies show that an individual who reaches age 21 without smoking, drinking or abusing drugs is virtually certain never to do so.

Want a look at the person who has the greatest influence on whether or not your children abuse drugs or alcohol? Go into your bathroom. Look in the mirror. The face looking back at you—along with your spouse—determine whether or not your kids drink, smoke, or do drugs. Not your child’s best friend. Not their teachers. Not anyone else—unless you let them.

That is the result of studies conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. Their 2009 study focused on the influence parents have on their children’s attitudes towards and likelihood of abusing drugs. The bottom line? Parent pressure trumps peer pressure. Expectations parents set for their kids—and the example parents demonstrate—are tremendously important.

Parents Expectations

The study shows that parents who expect their children to use drugs will have children who use drugs. Teens whose parents think drug use by their kids is very likely are ten times likelier to use marijuana than those whose parents think drug abuse will not happen. Dad’s expectations are important too. Teens who think their dads are OK with their drinking are two and one-half times likelier to be getting drunk—not just drinking a beer or two but getting drunk—than teens whose dads feel that underage drinking is unacceptable.

Teens that get drunk are much more likely to abuse drugs. Compared to teens that have never gotten drunk, teens that get drunk once a month are eighteen times likelier to smoke marijuana, four times likelier to have friends abusing prescription drugs, and twice as likely to have friends that use illegal drugs.

So all you have to do to keep your kids from drinking and doing drugs is to tell them not to, right? That is a good start. The study uncovered another critically important factor. Parents have to back up their words with deeds. Talk is not enough. One key finding of the study was that kids who have seen even one of their parents get drunk are twice as likely to get drunk and three times as likely to try drugs or cigarettes as kids who have never seen a parent drunk. It makes sense. “Do as I do” is always more powerful than “do as I say.” 

Want your kids to be drug free? Let them know that you find drug, alcohol, and tobacco abuse unacceptable—and live the message yourself.

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2009 by
GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

For more information on this study, go to the CASA home page: http://www.casacolumbia.org/  You can download a free copy of the 2009 study and read the full results.

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