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Parents Who Binge Drink - Don’t Be Surprised When Your Teens Do Likewise!

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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.

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Page last updated Aug 17, 2010

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