Text Size

If one or more parents at home drinks heavily, how does this impact the children in the house – specifically, are these kids at greater risk of drinking problems themselves later in life?

Researchers at the National Center on Substance Abuse and Addiction at Columbia University (CASA) do a lot of research on alcohol and the family to be able to answer questions like this. Here are some facts from their 2009 National Survey on American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XIX that show just how affected children are by a parent drinking heavily in the house.

34% of teens questioned said they had seen one or more parents drunk. Compared to teens that had never seen either parent get drunk, these teens were:

  • Twice as likely to get drunk in any given month (teens that get drunk monthly are 18 times more likely to also use marijuana than teens who don’t drink)
  • Three times more likely to have experimented with marijuana
  • Three times more likely to have experimented with smoking cigarettes

It’s fairly clear that we do as parents matters and that when we try to prescribe behaviors to our teens that we do not follow in our own lives, our kids are quick to spot our hypocrisy!

Teens who abstain from drinking until the age of 21 have almost no chance of developing a drinking problem over the course of a lifetime. It seems that if wish our children to steer clear of experimenting with alcohol and drugs we need to set a good example in the home!

It’s also important to expect that your teen son or daughter abstain from drinking and drug use and to make your expectations known to your children

  • Teens of parents who believed that some future drug use by their children was very likely were an astounding 10 times more likely to have used marijuana than teens of parents who believed that their children would never use drugs.
  • A teen who believes that his or her father condones their drinking is 250% more likely to get drunk in any given month than teens with fathers who do not approve of underage drinking.1

Practice what you preach and if you drink, drink only in moderation; stay involved in the lives of your children, talk to your children about drugs and alcohol and make sure they know that you do not condone any experimentation with use – if you do these things you do much to keep your kids safe and healthy.

Email It Send this page Print It Print friendly page Subscribe Subscribe to this topic category

Page last updated Aug 17, 2010

Creative Commons License
Copyright Notice
We welcome republishing of our content on condition that you credit Choose Help and the respective authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Join Thousands of Readers

who receive our weekly recovery newsletter.

Helpful Reading
Is Your Teen a Narcissist? Learn the Warning Signs
Is Your Teen a Narcissist? Learn the Warning Signs and Treatment Options © Anna Marie Gearhart
If an adolescent acts entitled, grandiose and self obsessed, does that mean she's a narcissist? Maybe...but probably not. Learn the differences between normal traits of teen development and those of narcissistic personality disorder. Read Article
Parenting & Family July 13, 2014 (12)
Parenting an Addict: No Misplaced Guilt!
Your Adult Child Has a Drug Problem - Get Past Guilt and Useless Worry © Alon
Moving past guilt and powerlessness as we wait for adult children to find recovery. Read Article
Living With An Addict February 05, 2014 (4)
Are You an Angry Parent?
Anger Does Not Demonstrate Parenting Authority © Giulia di Filippo
Anger has no place in discipline. It does not assert authority nor does it ensure that you've been heard. Learn better ways to communicate with your children. Read Article
Parenting & Family January 12, 2014
Find Help In...
Like Our Site? Follow Us!

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.