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.
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