Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Report Documents Magnitude of U.S. Substance Abuse: Data Show Children Face Multiple Risks

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Report Documents Magnitude of U.S. Substance Abuse: Data Show Children Face Multiple Risks

Article excerpt

About half of children in America--nearly 36 million of them--live in homes where a parent or other adult uses tobacco, drinks heavily, or uses illicit drugs.

That's one of the sobering facts contained in "Family Matters: Substance Abuse and the American Family." an 81-page white paper produced by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, New York.

"I think this is a helpful report and a good summary of existing research and current knowledge in the field," David Fassler, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist who practices in Burlington, Vt., told this newspaper. "It underscores the magnitude of our national problem with substance abuse. It clearly outlines the risk factors and demonstrates the dramatic impact on children of growing up in a family environment where they are exposed to substance abuse."

Other findings in the CASA report include the following:

* Thirteen percent of children under age 18 live with a parent or other adult who uses illicit drugs.

* Twenty-four percent of children live with a parent or other adult who is a binge or heavy drinker.

* Thirty-seven percent of children live with a parent or other adult who uses tobacco.

* Children of alcoholics are about four times more likely to use alcohol or develop alcohol-related problems, compared with their peers whose parents are not alcoholics.

* In 2003, 27.5% of high schoolers admitted to using tobacco, 44.9% admitted to drinking alcohol, and 22.4% admitted to using marijuana in the past month.

"One of the facts that stood out to me is the evidence that almost one child in four grows up in a home with a parent or another adult who has a significant substance abuse problem," said Dr. Fassler, who was not affiliated with the CASA report.

"As physicians, teachers, and other adults who care about kids, we need to keep that in mind in all settings, whether it's in a pediatric practice, a day care center, in a public school, or a summer camp. We need to realize as the report documents that these kids are at particularly high risk for a range of emotional and behavioral problems, including but not limited to substance abuse. They're at risk for problems in school, problems with friends, depression, increased risk of accidents, and problems with anxiety."

The report also includes two guides specifically for parents: "Ten Steps Parents Can Take to Prevent Teen Substance Abuse" (see box) and "Signs and Symptoms of Teen Substance Abuse. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.