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Parents Who Get Drunk Teach Their Kids to Do Likewise, Say Researchers

posted 10:39 AM EST, Thu August 27, 2009
Parents Who Get Drunk Teach Their Kids to Do Likewise, Say Researchers © Photo by A4gpa

Columbia University researchers have released their annual back to school alcohol and drug use survey of parents and teens. They say that teens that see a parent get drunk are far more likely to also get drunk - just one of many noteworthy facts from this snapshot of real world teen attitudes and substance use.

Think marijuana is a gateway drug? How about alcohol as the real gateway substance - researchers say that teens that use alcohol are 18 times more likely to use marijuana than teens who don't drink.

Researchers at Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) have just released their 15th annual report based on a survey of teens; their yearly back to school report. This year's report focuses largely on the impact parental attitudes and actions have on teen behaviors.

"Do as I say not as I do" does not make for effective parenting, say CASA researchers

Some report highlights include:

Parental Attitudes

  • Teens that have seen a parent drunk are twice as likely to drink alcohol and three times as likely to smoke cigarettes or marijuana
  • A teen who believes his or her father is OK with their drinking is 250% more likely to drink
  • 68% of teens that have poor relationships with their mothers think that using marijuana is a big deal, compared to 81% of teens that have positive relationships with their mothers

Teen Realities

  • Two thirds of teens that drink alcohol get drunk at least once a month. Amongst older teens (17 years) the percentage climbs to 85% of alcohol users that drink to get drunk once a month
  • Teens that drink are 1800% more likely to use marijuana than teens that don't drink
  • Teens that drink are twice as likely to know a girl who has been sexually assaulted
  • About a quarter of teens can buy marijuana within an hour, and about half of teens can get it within 24 hours
  • About 20% of teens can get prescription drugs in an hour and more than 30% of teens can find these drugs within 24 hours
  • Roughly two thirds of high school teens say that drugs are available, used and sold in their schools
  • Good students (teens that get mostly A's) are far more likely to consider using marijuana a big deal than students that get mostly Cs or worse…84% to 67%.
  • Teens say that it's easier to buy marijuana than cigarettes

Joseph A. Califano Jr. CASA Chairman, says that if parents can keep teens from using drugs or alcohol until the age of 21, then these teens will almost certainly grow into and through adulthood without abusing drugs or alcohol, and that "for better or worse, no one has greater power to influence a teen's decision whether to drink or use drugs than his parents."

He urges parents to set positive behavioral examples for teens, by responsible use of alcohol and no use of drugs and to make expectations about the unacceptability of underage alcohol use explicitly clear.

Because drinking is so associated with the use of other drugs and other risky behaviors, Elizabeth Planet, Vice President of CASA urges parents to watch for alcohol use, saying, "Drinking is a sign. If your kid is drinking regularly, don't discard it as not serious."

This year's full teen survey study report can be read on the CASA website http://www.casacolumbia.org/absolutenm/articlefiles/380-2009%20Teen%20Survey%20Report.pdf

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