Family Dinners Linked to Decreased Rate of Teen Drug and Alcohol Use

You’ve heard it said in a number of different forums and repeated in parenting magazines and public service announcements for years—and for good reason. Family dinners are of huge benefit to your children and one of those many benefits is a decreased rate of drug and alcohol abuse in their teen years, according to a report released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA). Is there any better reason to set the table?

What the CASA Report Had to Say

According to the report, compared to those kids who have family dinners between five to seven times each week, the kids who have family dinners three times or fewer per week are:

  • More likely to say they can find drugs or alcohol in under an hour (as compared to kids who eat dinner with family and say they can’t find it at all)
  • Four times as likely to say they will experiment with drugs one day
  • Four times as likely to smoke cigarettes
  • Twice as likely to drink alcohol
  • More than twice as likely to smoke marijuana

Joseph A. Califano, Jr., is CASA’s founder and chairman. He said, “Ninety percent of Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before age 18. Seventeen years of surveying teens has taught us that the more often children have dinner with their families the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.”

Other Factors

Obviously, it’s not just family dinners that serve to protect kids from drug and alcohol experimentation in their teen years, and it’s not just a lack of family dinners that is linked to higher rates of substance abuse. The CASA report also pointed out that teens who have an older sibling who have tried an illegal drug are:

  • 5.5 times more likely to smoke cigarettes
  • 3 times more likely to drink alcohol
  • 6.5 times more likely to smoke marijuana

Parental attention in helping older siblings follow the rules works to help keep younger ones from making the same mistakes. Staying involved across the board and regularly checking in with teens as well as addressing even the smallest move toward drug and alcohol abuse immediately can all help to stop drug abuse in your son before it starts or get it under control if it’s already begun.

Muir Wood Helps Fight Teen Drug Abuse

If your son is drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, or abusing other drugs and unable or unwilling to stop, we can help. Call now to learn more about our male-focused teen rehabilitation center here in Northern California.