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College Education Lowers Offspring's Drug Abuse Risk

Update Date: Sep 08, 2014 06:36 PM EDT

Having college-educated parents significantly lowers teens risk of drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington analyzed data on 14,268 teens and found that family structure and parental education can significantly impact teens' substance use.

The latest study revealed that parental education and family structure were more influential than other factors like gender, age or where the teen lived.

The study revealed that the presence of both parents benefitted African-American adolescents the most. The findings show that white teens who live in two parent homes are 69 percent more likely to engage in substance abuse than their African-American counterparts, and Hispanic teens who live with both parents are 74 percent more likely to use alcohol than their African-American counterparts.

"We know from previous research that early drinking and drug use is linked to social, economic, emotional and behavioral problems including violence, depression and precarious sexual activity," lead researcher Eusebius Small, an assistant professor in the UT Arlington School of Social Work, said in a news release. "Addressing these environmental concerns in concert with related individual problems could reduce substance use occurrences among our young people," Scott Ryan, dean of the UT Arlington School of Social Work, said in a statement.

"Our study should re-emphasize the direction for practice and policy, for example, examining the elements in the family structure that are deemed protective and can enhance the well-being of children," Small concluded.

The study "The Impact of Family and Parental Education on Adolescents' Substance Use: A Study of U.S. High School Seniors," was published online in the journal Social Work in Public Health.   

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