YORK, March 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Parents who use
illegal drugs, abuse alcohol and use tobacco
put half the nation's children -- more than 35
million of them -- at greater risk of
substance abuse and of physical and mental
illnesses, according to a new 81-page white
paper, Family Matters: Substance Abuse and the
American Family, released by The National
Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse
(CASA*) at Columbia University.
The CASA report finds:
-- 13 percent of children under 18 live in a household where a parent or
other adult uses illicit drugs.
-- 24 percent of children live in a household where a parent or other
adult is a binge or heavy drinker.
-- 37 percent of children live in a household where a parent or other
adult uses tobacco.
"Kids don't read their parents' lips, they
watch their parents' actions. That's what
makes the findings in the paper such a
tragedy," said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA's
chairman and president and former U.S.
Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.
"Too many parents set examples that increase
the risk their children will smoke, use
illegal drugs and abuse alcohol. Children of
substance abusing parents are much likelier to
become substance abusers themselves. The good
news is that parents who behave responsibly --
who don't smoke, abuse alcohol or use illegal
drugs -- have a positive influence on their
children, steering them away from substance
The CASA white paper also finds that alcohol
and drug-abusing parents are three times
likelier to abuse their children and four
times likelier to neglect them than parents
who do not abuse these substances. Children of
alcohol and drug abusers are at increased risk
of accidents, injuries and academic failure.
Such children are more likely to suffer
conduct disorders, depression or anxiety,
conditions that increase the risk children
will smoke, drink and use drugs.
Children exposed to their parents' second-hand
smoke are at greater risk of Sudden Infant
Death Syndrome, asthma and ear infections.
They are likelier to have their tonsils or
adenoids surgically removed. Over the long
term, these children are at greater risk of
cancer and heart disease.
"If substance abusing parents are not
concerned about what drugs, alcohol and
tobacco are doing to themselves, they should
be concerned about the ill effects they have
on their children," noted Califano. "This
should serve as a powerful incentive for
parents to seek the treatment they need."
To assist parents, the CASA white paper
contains two guides: Ten Steps Parents Can
Take to Prevent Teen Substance Abuse, and
Signs and Symptoms of Teen Substance Abuse,
which also follow below.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance
Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University is the
only national organization that brings
together under one roof all the professional
disciplines needed to study and combat all
types of substance abuse as they affect all
aspects of society. CASA's missions are to:
inform Americans of the economic and social
costs of substance abuse and its impact on
their lives; assess what works in prevention,
treatment and law enforcement; encourage every
individual and institution to take
responsibility to combat substance abuse and
addiction; provide those on the front lines
with tools they need to succeed; and remove
the stigma of substance abuse and replace
shame and despair with hope. To become a CASA
member, please visit
www.casacolumbia.org and click "Become a
Member" on the main menu or send an e-mail to
email@example.com for more
TEN STEPS PARENTS CAN TAKE TO PREVENT TEEN SUBSTANCE ABUSE
1. Set a good example.
2. Know your child's whereabouts, activities and friends.
3. Eat dinner together regularly.
4. Set fair rules and hold your child to them.
5. Be caring and supportive of your child.
6. Maintain open lines of communication.
7. Surround your child with positive role models.
8. Incorporate religion or spirituality into family life.
9. Learn the signs and symptoms of teen substance abuse and conditions
that increase risk.
10. If problems occur, get help promptly.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF TEEN SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Changes in Behavior:
-- Missing school, declining grades or discipline problems
-- Dropping old friends and getting new ones
-- Dropping activities such as sports
-- Increased secrecy
-- Unusual borrowing of money
-- Sudden mood changes, aggressiveness, irritability
-- Restlessness, excessively talkative, rapid speech
-- Irresponsible behavior, poor judgment
-- Forgetfulness, slurred speech or difficulty expressing thoughts
-- Lack of coordination, poor balance
More Direct Evidence of Substance Use:
-- Increased use of incense, room deodorant or perfumes (to hide smoke or
-- Increased use of eye drops (to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils)
-- New use of mouthwash or breath mints (to cover the smell of alcohol)
-- Drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers
-- Increased accumulation of inhalable products and accessories such as
hairspray, nail polish, correction fluid, etc.
-- Missing prescription drugs -- such as narcotics, stimulants and mood