When Parents Share Their Drug Abuse Stories, Kids Follow In Their Footsteps


When parents sit down to discuss drugs and substance abuse with their children, they might not want to volunteer information about their own past drug-related habits, according to new research originating from theUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Jennifer Kam, an assistant professor of communications at the school, and colleagues surveyed more than 500 sixth- through eighth-grade middle school students throughout the state of Illinois, reported NPR’s Sarah Zielinski.

Kam discovered that sometimes revealing one’s own experience with marijuanacocaine, or other illicit substances during such discussions might result in unintended consequences.

“Kids who said their parents had talked to them about drugs were more likely to have anti-drug attitudes. But those who parents’ conversations had included their own past drug use were more likely to say that using drugs wasn’t such a big deal,” Zielinski reported.

The professor believes that the children might be convinced that since their parents used drugs and managed to live to tell the tale, that they are less risky than it would seem. Additionally, Kam also surmises that children of mothers and fathers who previously used drugs would be less upset if they experimented with such substances as well.

So, does this study – which has been published in the journal Human Communication Research – mean that parents with drug histories should hide that information from their sons and daughters? Not exactly, say the researchers.

“We are not recommending that parents lie to their early adolescent children about their own past drug use,” Kam told Shelley Emling of the HuffPost on Friday. “Instead, we are suggesting that parents should focus on talking to their kids about the negative consequences of drug use, how to avoid offers, family rules against use, that they disapprove of use, and others who have gotten in trouble from using.”

“Parents may want to reconsider whether they should talk to their kids about times when they used substances in the past and not volunteer such information,” she added in a separate statement. “Of course, it is important to remember this study is one of the first to examine the associations between parents’ references to their own pastsubstance use and their adolescent children’s subsequent perceptions and behaviors.” Article Link…

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