Kin, faith can help fight drugs

July 26, 2010 at 2:09 AM
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COLOMBIA, Mo., July 26 (UPI) -- American Indian teens have the highest rate of illicit drug use, but U.S. researchers suggest family and faith counteract this risk.

Researchers at the University of Missouri in Columbia say positive family relationships and religious affiliation can counteract many drug risk factors -- including addicted family members, exposure to violence and deviant peers.

"For American Indian youth, our study suggests that intervention and prevention programs should consider a supportive family environment as an important focus," study researcher ManSoo Yu saids in a statement. "Healthy relationships protect adolescents against exposure to violence and negative social environments, and therefore, may lower their risk for drug involvement."

Yu and colleagues suggest practitioners can also encourage adolescents to connect with religious organizations, which can reduce negative peer influence and increase positive family relationships.

Yu says the study findings, published in Addictive Behaviors, expands prior research that indicates healthy families protect adolescents from delinquent behaviors -- including drug problems -- and religious affiliation mediates the impact of deviant peers and other negative factors.

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