Research shows most parents are aware of their teen’s cigarette and drug use. Early detection is essential.

For a six-month reporting period, the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) found that 82 percent of parents accurately detected the presence of teen cigarette smoking – the parents’ reports corresponded with the teens’ reports of their own smoking.

Eighty-six percent of parents accurately evaluated the presence of teen alcohol use, and 86 percent accurately reported the presence of teen marijuana use. However, only 72 percent of the parents in the RIA study accurately reported the presence of hard drug use (anything other than pot) by teens.

According to lead researcher Neil B. McGillicuddy, Ph.D., “This study begins to dispel the notion that parents don’t know the extent to which their teens are using cigarettes, alcohol and illicit drugs. It seems that, despite a few exceptions, many parents do know the extent of their teenager’s substance use. Parents can use this knowledge to help themselves cope with teenage substance use and the resulting stress on the family, as well as to begin conversations with their teen about making changes.”

For RIA study, 75 parents and their teenagers were interviewed separately about the teens’ recent use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. Parent-participants were, on average, female (85 percent) – 39 years of age with 13 years of education. Teen-participants were, on average, male (61 percent) – 16 years of age and not receiving substance abuse treatment (76 percent).

In a very important finding – parents were less aware of the extent of the teen’s substance use if the teen was younger (about 14 or 15-years-old), and if the parents did less monitoring of what their teens were doing after school, during the evening and on weekends. Together, these findings suggest that parents need to consider increasing their monitoring of how teens spend their time and begin thinking about substance use at a significantly younger age.

Also, parents who are overly self-involved made less accurate reports.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York.

2 thoughts on “Research shows most parents are aware of their teen’s cigarette and drug use. Early detection is essential.

  • April 2, 2008 at 5:42 pm
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    That confirms my beliefs, it’s getting harder and harder to be a parent these days. Kids face many risks and many temptations, school is not a safe place anymore and that’s because it has become a target for drugs. How can a parent control that?
    Drug Treatment

  • July 15, 2008 at 9:14 pm
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    It’s good to see that parents are noticing what their teens are doing. The hard part is knowing how to approach their teens about the issue at hand. Teen’s friends can influence more than the parents can. Parents do have options available to them for help with their teens and approaching the issue.
    Narconon Vista Bay

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