Teens Who Eat Dinner with Family Less Likely to Abuse Substances
The report, The Importance of Family Dinners IV, by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), found that those who don’t frequently engage in family dinners are three and a half times more likely to have abused prescription drugs, three and a half times more likely to have used an illicit drug other than marijuana, three times more likely to have used marijuana and tobacco, and one and a half times more likely to have consumed alcohol. The report also found that those who have infrequent family dinners are more likely to be able to get marijuana and prescription drugs within one hour.
The report also looked at teens who eat dinner with their families but have distractions at the table, such as talking or texting, playing games, or watching television, are three times more likely to use marijuana and tobacco and two times more likely to drink alcohol compared to those who eat with no distractions.
Teens who have fewer than three family dinners per week are also more likely to have friends who drink and use marijuana, Ecstasy, methamphetamine, cocaine, acid, and heroin.
Those who have fewer family dinners are also more likely to have seen their parents drunk and to believe their father approves of them drinking. This means the teens are also more likely to drink and get drunk, as well as try cigarettes and marijuana.
Elizabeth Planet, Vice President of CASA and Director of Special Projects, says that the emotional and social benefits that arise from family dinners are priceless. Teens who regularly eat with their families also get better grades in school and have stronger relationships with their parents, and family dinners are a great way to create opportunities for parental engagement and communication.
In 2009, 59 percent of teens reported having dinner with their families at least five times a week, and 62 percent of parents say they frequently have family dinners. These numbers have stayed about the same for the last several years.
This research suggests that the more likely kids are to have dinner wit their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink, and use drugs.
Source: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA*) at Columbia University, Teens Who Eat Infrequent Family Dinners Likelier to Drink, Smoke, Use Drugs, September 23, 2009