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Poor Parenting’s Role in Teen Substance Abuse

Author GreatDad Writers
Submitted 17-09-2008

A report published by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University states that poor parenting directly correlates to teenage substance abuse. This report is based on a study that includes approximately 1,000 teenagers and 300 of their parents.

The study found that the abuse of prescription drugs has increased significantly with 19 percent of teenagers citing that it is easier to get their hands on prescriptions drugs than beer, marijuana, or cigarettes. A third of teens said that they could get the drugs from friends or peers, while 34 percent said they could obtain the drugs at home or from their parents. Parenting mistakes like unconsciously leaving prescription drugs around the house inadvertently aid in children’s easy access to the stash.

Twenty percent of teens have abused prescription drugs at some time and 10 percent have abused cough medicine specifically, according to Partnership for a Drug-Free America, a non-profit organization. Teens who abuse prescription drugs think that these medications are safe because they cure sickness, without considering the consequences of self-medication.

What parents can do to prevent drug abuse

Parents should take the lead by keeping tabs on their children on school nights. This would help to minimize the chances of their children experimenting with alcohol and drugs. The report noted that although 14 percent of parents knew their children’s whereabouts on schools nights, 46 percent of teens actually go out, many of them without parental consent. This discrepancy indicates a breakdown of communication in the home.

All the more worrisome is that only 17 percent of parents and 28 percent of teens surveyed perceived drugs to be a major concern. Parents believe their children should focus more on avoiding cigarettes rather than marijuana, in the mistaken belief that marijuana is not addictive. This can be attributed to the fact that while there has been a cooperative effort made in understanding the dangers of cigarettes, the same cannot be said for marijuana education.


Parents need to understand that as role models their behavior is a direct example of how their children learn right from wrong. Parents should set a good example by taking care of their health and eating well. Families should spend meals together and interact regularly to stay current on each other’s lives. Strong ties within a family will decrease the likelihood that children will turn to drugs.