The Relationship between Family Variables and Adolescent Substance Abuse: A Literature Review
Denton, Rhonda E., Kampfe, Charlene M., Adolescence
Substance abuse is a major problem confronting adolescents today. One out of every six teenagers suffers from chemical dependency (Thorne & DeBlassie, 1985). Adolescent drug addiction crosses a broad range of backgrounds (Thorne & DeBlassie, 1985) and affects physical, psychological, and social development (Green, 1979). Researchers have attempted to understand the etiology and perpetuation of drug abuse among adolescents but have found no specific causal factors. Rather, studies reveal that abuse is influenced by a "complex, interacting network of sociological, psychological and biological variables" (Barnes, 1977; Campbell, 1983). One area of focus has been the family. Researchers have found a relationship between teenage substance abuse and certain characteristics of the family. A review of the current literature reveals two broad categories of characteristics: family drug usage patterns and family atmosphere.
Family Drug Usage Patterns
Family drug usage is one category that may influence adolescent substance abuse. Table 1 shows that the use of mind-altering chemicals by family member(s) significantly increases the chance that other family members will use drugs (Adler & Lotecka, 1973; Beardslee, Son, & Valliant, 1986; Blum, 1972; Craig & Brown, 1975; Needle, McCubbin, Wilson, Reineck, Lazar, & Mederer, 1986; Tec, 1974; Tolone & Dermott (1975). The overall influence of family members can be seen in the results of a study by Craig and Brown (1975) who found that a high percentage of adolescent substance users reported drug use in the immediate family.
Table 1 Studies of Family Drug Usage Patterns Investigator S(*) NS(**) Finding Tec x positive association between (1974) parent's and children's consumption of drugs x more parental drug use among adolescents who use marijuana regularly than nonusers x less parental drug use among adolescents who are abstainers than regular marijuana users Tolone & x positive relationship between Dermont parental smoking and drinking (1975) habits and adolescent's use of marijuana x no relationship between parental smoking and drinking habits and adolescent's use of hallucinogens x perceived seriousness of parental drinking relates positively to adolescent use of marijuana x perceived seriousness of parental smoking does not relate to adolescent's use of drugs x parental use of sleeping pills and tranquilizers relates positively to adolescent's use of marijuana and somewhat relates to adolescent's use of hallucinogens Craig & x adolescent drug users report more Brown drug users among family (1975) members than nonusing adolescents Needle, x mothers' and fathers' use of McCubbin, drugs does not relate to Wilson, adolescent use Reineck, Lazar, & x older sibling substance use relates Mederer positively to adolescent's use (1986) Adler & x adolescent drug users report a Lotecka higher percentage of parental (1973) drug usage than adolescent nonusers Beardslee, x positive relationship between Son, & parental and child alcoholism Vaillant (1986) Blum x parents of "high-risk" adolescents (1972) tend to be regular drinkers x "high-risk" adolescents report more maternal alcohol problems than "low-risk" adolescents x fathers of "high risk" adolescents report using alcohol for "escapist" purposes x siblings of drug users tend to be users themselves Cannon x offspring of drug-abusing families (1976) are allowed or encouraged to find escape rather than to cope with problems x offspring of drug-abusing families tend to show a pattern of feeling unprepared to cope adequately Jurich, x adolescent drug abusers report Polson, more parental use of drugs and Jurich, & denial as crutches than adolescent Bates users (1985) x high frequency of parental hypocritical morality among adolescent drug abusers * S = Significant as reported by researcher ** NS = Not significant as reported by researcher
Parents' habits and attitudes toward mind-altering chemicals are significantly related to those of their children (Adler & Lotecka, 1973; Cannon, 1976; Tec, 1974; Tolone & Dermott, 1975). …