We know that one of the most important influences on young people’s substance use and misuse are their parents. And one of the messages we have for parents is that frequent family dinners could be an important protective factor when it comes to substance misuse.
As we know its not the food that is the active ingredient in preventing substance misuse, its the opportunity to talk and engage with family members, to be interested in, and engaged with, the lives of our sons and daughters.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University have an annual survey which provides some American data on this. They report that teenagers who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than three per week) are:
- Almost four times likelier to use tobacco;
- More than twice as likely to use alcohol;
- Two-and-a-half times likelier to use marijuana; and
- Almost four times likelier to say they expect to try drugs in the future.
What we can’t tell is whether the same would be true in the UK, but it would be good to find out wouldn’t it?