There have been many studies over the years that explore the topic of family dinners. Families who make it a practice to sit down and eat together regularly usually have a stronger connection than those that do not, and this appears to have an impact on health outcomes including drug use and addiction.
A report released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) found that families eating dinner together five or more times a week had teens far less likely to have access to or experiment with drugs than those families eating together fewer than three times a week.
The CASA research findings showed the following results for teens from families eating together fewer than three nights a week when compared to those with five or more family dinners each week:
- Twofold increase in alcohol consumption
- Fourfold increase in cigarette smoking
- About a 2.5-fold increase in the use of marijuana
- Fourfold increase in the belief they will try drugs one day
- Higher frequency of knowing how to get drugs or alcohol in under an hour
Older Sibling Drug Use Has a Large Impact on the Choices of Younger Siblings
Another issue relating to family dynamics and teen drug use has to do with the importance of the sibling relationship. Everyone knows that younger siblings often idolize their older siblings and want to be just like them. This means that whether they like it or not, older siblings are in the position of role model to their younger brothers or sisters. The CASA study found that adolescents who think their older siblings have used drugs have a 5.5-fold increase in smoking cigarettes, a threefold increase in drinking alcohol, and a 6.5-fold increase in marijuana use.
CASA Has Been Promoting Family Dinner for More Than a Decade
CASA realized a number of years ago that research was showing what a large positive impact regular family dinners had on teen drug use rates. Since 90 percent of addicts started using drugs, alcohol or cigarettes before age 18, it is incredibly important to help prevent experimentation and abuse among our nation’s young people. Since 2001, CASA has celebrated Family Day in order to promote parental involvement in their teens’ lives in simple ways such as making time for a sit down for a family meal regularly in order to help curb teen drug abuse.
If you are concerned that your teen is abusing drugs and alcohol and you are looking for resources to help you encourage them to make positive changes in their life, contact us at Newport Academy today.