Child Involvement in Family Member Alcohol and Tobacco Use Associated With Child Substance Use

This longitudinal study examined whether child involvement in family member substance use (i.e., getting, opening, or pouring alcoholic drinks; getting or lighting cigarettes) influenced that child’s likelihood of substance use beyond known family factors such as parental substance use and family rules. Families (N=224) with children aged 10–18 years were surveyed 7 times between 2002 and 2011.

  • 34% of families reported that children had gotten or opened alcoholic drinks; 21% reported that children had gotten or lit cigarettes for family members.
  • Child involvement in family use was associated with alcohol (odds ratio [OR], 4.29), cigarette (OR, 7.16), and marijuana use (OR, 7.64).
  • Better family management (clear family rules, parental monitoring, and praise for good behavior) was associated with a lower likelihood of alcohol (OR, 0.27) and marijuana (OR, 0.45), but not cigarette use.

Comments: These findings are in line with other work showing that child involvement in family alcohol use predicts an increased risk of child substance use, suggesting that this practice could be a potential target for family-based interventions. Public health messaging urging parents to refrain from involving children in substance use may also be helpful in reducing teen substance use.

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Reference: Bailey JA, Epstein M, Steeger CM, Hill KG. Concurrent and prospective associations between substance-specific parenting practices and child cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use. J Adolesc Health. 2018;62(6):681–687.

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