-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) -- About one in five parents
think they have little control over whether their teens take up
smoking, drinking or illicit drug use, a new U.S. government survey
That's too bad, say experts at the Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), since new research shows
that parents are actually one of the most influential forces
helping to shape their child's views on these issues.
"Surveys of teens repeatedly show that parents can make an enormous difference in influencing their children's perceptions of tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drug use," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde in a news release.
The new findings are based on the agency's most recent survey of
more than 67,000 Americans ages 12 and older. The survey also found
that one in every 10 parents has not talked to their teens about
tobacco, alcohol or other drugs -- even though two-thirds of these
same parents believe such a talk might sway their child away from
"Although most parents are talking with their teens about the risks of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, far too many are missing the vital opportunity these conversations provide in influencing their children's health and well-being," Hyde said. "Parents need to initiate age-appropriate conversations about these issues with their children at all stages of their development in order to help ensure that their children make the right decisions."
According to SAMHSA, prior studies have shown that when teens
believe parents strongly disapprove of their smoking, drinking or
trying illicit drugs, they are much less likely to do so. In one
survey, just 5 percent of teens who thought their parents would
strongly disapprove of their trying marijuana had actually used
pot, compared to 32 percent of teens who thought their parents
might not have that level of disapproval.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
more information on
teen alcohol and drug abuse.
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