Preventing Teen Drug Use: Why Parental Affection Matters

A study by the European Institute of Studies on Prevention (IREFREA) looked at how parenting styles influence teenager drug use (alcohol, tobacco, cannabis) .  After interviews with 7,718 youth between the ages of 11-19, it turns out that showing affection, emotions and understanding are very important factors in keeping teenagers from using drugs.

The study looked at four types of parenting styles: authoritative (warm yet strict), authoritarian (strict and not warm), neglectful (neither warm nor strict), and indulgent (warm but not strict). An authoritative model of parenting is where parents “give clear rules and affectionately and flexibly reason with the children when asking for their compliance”, whereas parents in an authoritarian model are less affectionate. Parents in the indulgent and neglectful models have a low level of control over their children. The indulgent model, where parents openly show affection and understanding, was previously seen to be permissive and not as effective, but this new study shows that even an indulgent parenting style can prevent drug use.

In the past, it has been found that “adolescents from authoritative households use less illegal drugs, are more resilient, achieve better academic performance, have better psychological competence, and better adaptive strategies, and are less involved in the broad-spectrum of behaviour problems”. In indulgent and authoritative households, an environment of dialogue, acceptance, and affection also encourages increased self-confidence. This likely leads to increased youth resiliency and prevention of drug use. Keeping that in mind, PAD’s Strengthening Families for Parents and Youth (SFPY) teaches families how to build the skills that will create understanding and affectionate relationships. Check out our SFPY website for more info!

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