Teenage Attitudes toward Smoking Influence Substance Abuse

Posted on September 30th, 2009
Posted in Teens

New research from Weill Cornell Medical College has found that teenagers’ attitudes toward cigarette smoking influences their likelihood of abusing multiple drugs, such as drinking, smoking, and using marijuana. The study is one of the first to examinee the links between smoking, drinking, and marijuana use.

For the study, the researchers surveyed 2,400 sixth- and seventh-graders in inner-city schools in New York City, asking questions about substance abuse and psychological factors that may be associated with drug use. Many of the schools serve impoverished families.

Among girls, ambivalent or positive attitudes toward smoking within their circle of friends were associated with participating in poly-drug use. Boys, on the other hand, went outside their social circle and looked at the attitudes toward drinking, drugs, and smoking among their larger age group.

Dr. Jennifer A. Epstein, assistant professor of public health in the Division of Prevention and Health Behavior at WCMC, said that if a teen thinks that smoking is socially acceptable, he or she is much more likely to also drink and use marijuana. Although the differences between how girls and boys are influenced by social factors are subtle, they could help researchers develop new methods of prevention.

The researchers also found that some factors were the same, regardless of gender. Both girls and boys were more likely to use multiple drugs when their friends drank or smoked or when their parents encouraged drinking or were ambivalent about it.

Dr. Epstein said that parent’s opinions matter, and that they should let their children know that they are not okay with drug use. Parents should also be aware of their children’s friends, as they play an important role in influencing behavior. Parents should also talk to their kids about setting personal goals and asserting themselves.

Source: Science Daily, Teen Attitudes Toward Smoking Linked To Likelihood Of Drinking And Using Drugs, October 3, 2009

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