Family Structure Impacts Teens' Future Attitudes on Alcohol
Jim LiebeltJim Liebelt's Blog
- 2015 Oct 01
*The following is excerpted from an online article from MedicalXpress.
Does allowing adolescents to drink at home increase or decrease their chances for future alcohol-related problems? It depends on the type of home, a new study finds.
Research by Ash Levitt, senior research scientist at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA), found that family structure plays a significant role in whether or not adolescents who drink at home go on to negative involvement with alcohol as young adults.
"Some parents believe allowing their children to drink at home, in a supervised and controlled environment, helps them learn to drink responsibly," Levitt says. "On the other hand, many believe allowing adolescents to drink at home sends the wrong message, by condoning an illegal behavior that can have potential, significant health risks.
"What we found is that neither of those perspectives is 100 percent true, and outcomes greatly depend on whether the teenagers live in an intact family," Levitt says.
An "intact" family is defined as children living with both biological parents. "Non-intact" families included blended (i.e., one biological parent and one step-parent) or single-parent family environments.
The study of 772 participants began in 1989 when the average participant was 15-years-old, and researchers followed the group over the course of fifteen years.
Levitt's research found that adolescents from intact families who were allowed to drink at home showed the lowest levels of alcohol use and problems over time, whereas those from non-intact families who were allowed to drink at home showed the highest levels of involvement. The results controlled for factors such as a family history of alcohol problems, parenting practices and demographic characteristics.
Up to 30 percent of parents report allowing their children to drink at home under at least some circumstances, according to the American Medical Association.
The research was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.