Family dinner = Fewer teens using drugs

Sept. 22, 2011 at 8:03 PM

NEW YORK, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. teens who eat family dinner fewer than three times a week are more than two times likelier to use marijuana and twice as likely to drink, researchers say.

A report from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in New York also found teens who didn't eat family dinner frequently were four times likelier to use tobacco and almost four times likelier to say they expect to try drugs in the future.

In addition, teens who infrequent participate in family dinners are likelier to say they have ready access to alcohol, prescription drugs -- without a prescription in order to get high -- or marijuana.

However, most U.S. teens report sitting down with their family for dinner frequently -- 58 percent of teens report having dinner with their families at least five times a week, a proportion that has remained consistent over the past decade, the report said.

"This year's study reinforces the importance of frequent family dinners," Joseph A. Califano, Jr., founder of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, said in a statement.

"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."

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