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Parents Underestimate Their Influence Over Teenagers’ Choices on Substance Abuse

Update Date: May 25, 2013 01:34 PM EDT

Once a child reaches the teenage years, parents start to prepare for the worse. Children never seem to want to listen nor do they want to hang out around home any more. Although not all children go through these phases when they transition over into adulthood, most parents believe that their words of advice hold no power over the decisions their children make, particularly when it comes to substance use. A new study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that parents often underestimate the influence they have over their own children.

According to the report, one in every five parent believe that he or she has very little to say over what his/her child does in terms of alcohol and drug usage. This statistic is for parents with children between 12 and 17-years-old. The report also found that about one in 10 parents admitted to not discussing the dangers of drug abuse with their teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17.  Ironically enough, 67.7 percent of parents who did not talk to their children about these issues believed that their children would listen to their advice.

Despite the fact that some parents do not think that they have any power over their children at this stage of life, the report found that children who believed that their parents would disprove of their behaviors were less likely to try and engage in these behaviors. For example, only five percent of children who believe that their parents would strongly disprove if they smoked marijuana once or twice smoked whereas 31.5 percent of children who did not believe that their parents would adamantly disprove their behaviors smoked.

"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," the SAMHSA's administrator, Pamela S. Hyde said. "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 conservations provide in influencing their children's health and well-being."

The report was compiled from the SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This survey is conducted annually and the researchers compiled data from the 2004 through 2011 surveys. This report was composed of data from 67,700 Americans who were at least 12-years-old. The researchers stated that parents should have appropriate talks with their children regarding the dangerous side effects of different kinds of substances and activity.

"Any time is a good time to talk to your kids when you have a chance," Peter Delany, the SAMHSA's director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, said. "But if you haven't started talking to your kids, before school gets out is an especially good time. In the summer months, especially around holiday weekends, kids are ore likely to get involved with substances."

The full report can be found here.

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