Don’t Want Your Kids to do Drugs? Better not Tell Them About Your Own Drug Use

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Photo Courtesy of BoellstiftungTalking candidly about your own drug use may not inspire your kids to stay away from drugs, according to a new study published in the journal Human Communication Research.

In a cross-sectional survey involving more than 500 students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grade, researchers evaluated the impact of “targeted parent-child communication” directly opposing drug use against the impact of parental references to negative substance abuse experiences.

“Considering the specific content of parent-child conversations about substance is important because messages may vary in their associations with anti-substance-use beliefs and behaviors,” the report reads. “Discussing past experiences with substance use, even when highlighting the negative consequences, may still be related to lower levels of anti-substance-use beliefs.”

According to researchers, children exposed to targeted communications against drug use were likelier to hold anti substance-use perspectives than young people whose parents openly discussed personal negative drug experiences with their sons and daughters.

Overall, the study indicated both parent-child communication and anti-drug-use perspectives were generally higher among students of European descent than for Hispanic students.

“Although targeted parent–child communication sends a uniform message, parents' discussion of their prior use may in some ways downplay the parents' emphasis on the negative consequences of using substances,” the report concludes. “Knowing that their parents tried substances may actually normalize this behavior for youth, thereby decreasing the anti-substance-use parent injunctive norms and descriptive norms.”

Photo by Boellstiftung |