Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Teen Drug and Alcohol Abuse Increased When Parent or Sibling Deployed

Middle school and high school kids don’t fare well when someone in their immediate family is deployed. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that kids in this situation are at a higher risk of abusing drugs and alcohol, especially when the deployed serviceman or servicewoman is a parent or sibling. Additionally, the more deployments experienced by a family member, the higher the chances that the related teen has used drugs or alcohol in the past month and the higher the chance of developing a lifelong struggle with substance abuse.

The Study Stats and Facts

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Southern California School of Social Work, found that:

  • Multiple deployments were linked to a 14-percent increase in the chance of developing a lifelong drug abuse problem.
  • Multiple deployments were also linked to an 18-percent increased risk that the teen had used drugs or alcohol recently.
  • Adolescents and teens in 5th grade through their junior year in high school were more likely to have a drug or alcohol abuse issue if their sibling was enlisted than if their parent was the enlisted family member.

Tamika Gilreath was the lead author of the study. In a news release, she said, “The potential for strain and the trauma associated with multiple deployments in the past 10 years of war seem to be driving this. People need to be aware that these experiences have an impact. Everyone talks about the impact of parents, but no one talks about the impact of other close family members, such as siblings. There is research to suggest that the deployment of a sibling is similarly disruptive as parental deployment. Parental concern may influence their interactions with the younger sibling who is left to cope with their own sense of loss as well as their parents’.”

Addressing the Issue of Teen Drug and Alcohol Abuse

If your child is struggling due to the deployments of a parent or a sibling, or if military life is causing stress that is tough for him to handle, drug and alcohol abuse during the teen years is a high-risk issue. Contact us at Muir Wood today to discuss the options available to your child here in Sonoma County. We offer an intensive treatment program that is uniquely designed for teen boys who are struggling with substance abuse. To learn more about our recovery philosophy, contact the phone number above or download the enrollment packet today.