Infrequent Family Dinners Linked to Teen Substance Abuse


A report on The Importance of Family Dinners, from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia), revealed that teens who share dinners with their families infrequently are more likely to smoke, drink, or use pot.

family dinnersInfrequent family dinners‘ was defined as fewer than three per week, while ‘frequent’ was defined as five to seven family dinners per week. The report indicated that teens who shared infrequent family dinners were almost four times more likely to smoke; more than twice as likely to drink alcohol; and two and a half times likelier to use pot. They are also almost four times more likely to try illegal drugs.

Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Founder and Chairman of CASA Columbia and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, shared: “This year’s study reinforces the importance of frequent family dinners… Ninety percent of Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before age 18. Parental engagement in children’s lives is key to raising healthy, drug-free kids and one of the simplest acts of parental engagement is sitting down to the family dinner. Seventeen years of surveying teens has taught us that the more often children have dinner with their families the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.”

On the other hand, teens who share frequent dinners with family were found to be more likely to have excellent relationships with the other members of their family.

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