The media’s lackadaisical portrayal of substance use and addiction has long contributed to teen experimentation with drugs and alcohol and long term addictive behavior. Despite community efforts to provide deglamorized information about the harmful effects of substance use, teens remain misinformed about the dangers of partaking in the usage of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit and prescription drugs. However, not all teens are susceptible to influences in popular culture that idealize the use of addictive substances. In fact, a recent study provides compelling evidence that proactive parenting can negate accepting attitudes toward substance experimentation and abuse despite the overwhelming misinformation communicated by friends, the media and celebrities.
The Center on Addiction is the leading national science-based nonprofit organization dedicated to solely converting the nation’s perception of addiction through the advancement of effective treatment and destigmatized public policy. In June, the Center on Addiction released its latest study on teens’ attitudes related to substance use: The study is entitled Teen Insights Into Drugs, Alcohol and Nicotine-A National Survey of Adolescent Attitudes Toward Addictive Substances (Study).
The Study interviewed 1,014 teens aged 12 to 17 throughout the United States. The findings indicate that teens with involved parents who maintain open dialogue, regular family meal times, fair and consistent rules and social media monitoring indicate a lack of interest in substance use. Furthermore, parental involvement dissuades a teen from associating with classmates who partake in substance use. A higher percentage of teens ranging from 12 to 14 years of age weighted parental influence to be greater than teens in the 15 to 17-year age range, but participatory parenting uniformly decreased adolescent substance use experimentation.
Although there are a multitude of determinants that can unfluence a teen to engage in potentially addictive behavior, the Center on Addiction Study found a direct correlation between teens who identified their parents as being non-involved with the potential for high risk behavior. Teens who do not regularly communicate with their parents are more likely to maintain friendships with peers who are experimental in this regard, and those teens reflected intent to ultimately participate in the usage of nicotine products, marijuana, illicit drugs and prescription drugs. The likelihood of this behavior was universally increased amongst the participants with a slightly lower possibility in the 12 to 14-year old group.
While media desensitization is apparent in the teens’ responses, the majority of the study participants prioritized the opinions of their parents regarding the dangers of addiction over the opinions of friends, celebrities and random expressions communicated throughout all social media forums. However, teens that watch friends participate in substance use in-real-world scenarios, as well as actors using in virtual mediums, are more likely to engage in the same behavior themselves.
The Study confirms that Paradigm’s commitment to facilitate active communications between a client and his or her primary caregivers remains sound. Oftentimes, family members disengage from the behavior of a loved one who is struggling with addiction. Disengagement creates lack of communication and a breakdown of parental guidance. Once this occurs, addiction worsens until family interactions are repaired. But once the communication gap is bridged, healthy and continuous family interactions develop. This process forms a solid foundation for a client’s lasting recovery.
If you are interested in reading the complete Study, the findings can be accessed at https://www.centeronaddiction.org/addiction-research/reports/teen-insights-drugs-alcohol-and-nicotine-national-survey-adolescent.