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Parents can prevent teens’ drug use despite doubts, report finds

A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has revealed some interesting findings on the amount of influence parents think they have over their teens when it comes to preventing them from using illicit drugs, tobacco or alcohol.

In fact, the new report reveals that parents are among the most effective factors in preventing children’s substance use. Unfortunately, there are a lot of parents who don’t think this is the case. The reports shows that 22.3 percent of parents believe what they talk about with their teens has very little impact on whether or not their child takes drugs, smokes tobacco products or drinks alcohol.

Could this belief be preventing parents from talking to their kids about the dangers of using illicit drugs? The SAMHSA report also reveals that one in ten parents reported that they did not discuss the negative consequences associated with smoking, drinking or drug use even though nearly 70 percent of these parents who had not talked with their children believed they would influence whether their teen uses drugs if they talked to them.

According to a news release from SAMHSA, national surveys of teens ages 12 to 17 reveal that teens who think their parents would strongly condemn their substance use were less likely to use illicit drugs, tobacco or alcohol than others. For instance, current marijuana use was less frequent among teens who thought their parents would strongly condemn their experimentation with marijuana once or twice than among teens who did not sense this level of disapproval.

According to SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, surveys of teens repeatedly reveal that parents can make a big difference in influencing their children’s perception of tobacco, alcohol or illicit drug use. Though a lot of parents are having discussions with their teens about the issues associated with substance use, many are not taking advantage of the influence these conversations have on their teens’ health. Hyde says that parents should start age-appropriate conversations about drugs with their children at all stages of their development.

SAMHSA is the organization within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that tries to lower the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

Do you talk to your kids about tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use? Do you believe these conversations have any impact on them? What other factors might prevent or encourage children’s substance use? Share your thoughts in the comments section.