Monkey See, Monkey Do

Parent and peer habits can influence kids in their drinking and smoking future

(RxWiki News) What’s the best way to teach kids how to become responsible drinkers in adulthood?  Have the family and environment be a good, consistent example.

A recent study asked parents and kids about their substance use and smoking habits.

Results found that kids are likely to follow the behavior of their parents and friends.

"Set a good example for your kids."

Vivia V. McCutcheon, PhD, research assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis, led a study into the how parental and environmental drug and alcohol abuse impacts the psyche of children.

For the study, telephone interviewers collected psychiatric and substance use disorder information from 488 twin dads, 420 biological moms and 831 children.

The children were classified into one of four groups:
1. Unaffected.
2. Alcohol abuse/dependence.
3. Alcohol abuse/dependence with anxiety and depression.
4. Alcohol and marijuana abuse/dependence and nicotine dependence with a conduct disorder.

Researchers were looking for links between these four outcomes and family risk and environmental influence.

A total of 53 percent of kids were in group one, 31 percent were in group two, 8 percent were in group three and 7 percent were in group four.

Maternal marijuana use in group four was double that of any other group at 15 percent.

Specific questions were asked to assess parenting, childhood physical and/or sexual abuse, and perceived family and peer substance use.

Results found that inconsistent parenting, childhood physical and/or sexual abuse, and perceived family and peer substance use played a role in the children growing up to also have a substance use disorder.

Children tended to grow up to be smokers if they had friends who smoked in groups two, three and four.

The children in group two, showed strong likelihood to have alcohol use disorder if they perceived their peers as having alcohol use disorder.

Authors said, “…public health interventions to prevent psychiatric and substance use disorder might also be focused on rearing environment and peer influences.”

This study was published in August in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Funding for this study was provided by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research. No conflicts of interest were found.

Review Date: 
September 7, 2012