The Relationship between Having Smoking or Drinking Parents and the Occurrence of Smoking or Drinking in Their Adolescent Children

By Gruber, Ema Nicea; Celan, Josip et al. | Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research, January 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

The Relationship between Having Smoking or Drinking Parents and the Occurrence of Smoking or Drinking in Their Adolescent Children


Gruber, Ema Nicea, Celan, Josip, Golik-Gruber, Vesna, Agius, Mark, Murphy, Suzanne, Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research


INTRODUCTION

The family is vital in providing optimal conditions for the growth and health of children. Love and affections are necessary for the psychological development of the child.1

Adolescence is a confusing period of a person's lifetime. Young people challenge authority, refuse parental control and adopt the behavior of their peers.2 Young people often use substances in order to help themselves face the challenges of growing up and this may lead to some problems in behavior, the development of substance abuse or even substance dependence.3

Alcohol misuse and smoking are major health problems among students in Croatia. Previous research in the ESPAD 2003 (European school survey project on alcohol and other drugs) study4 showed that 43% of Croatian boys and 40% of Croatian girls had smoked on more than 40 occasions during their life and one in every ten girls and one in every eight boys said that they had smoked every day since they were 13 years old. Twenty-four percent of girls and forty-five percent of boys had drunk alcohol more than 40 times in their life. One in every eight students of the first grade of high school and one in every five students of the second grade of high school had got drunk more than 20 times in their life.

Fatal influences of smoking and alcohol on human health are well documented in the adult Croatian population. In this population, about one third of the male population smokes regularly and 6.6% of the population smokes occasionally. More than 40% of males smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day. Seventy-four percent of subjects started smoking before they were 20 years old. 6.8% of the male population drinks wine more often than four times a week. Furthermore, these data probably largely underestimate the problem of alcohol consumption in the county, as alcoholics were unlikely to self-select themselves for this cross sectional study.5 Research for Europe shows that in almost every European country 50-80% of students smoked a cigarette at least once in their life. In Austria, Czechoslovakia, Greenland, Germany, Latvia and Russia, 40% of students smoked 40 or more times in their life. The lowest rates for smoking are in Turkey (13%), Malta (16%) and Portugal (18%). The percent of students who has drunk alcohol 40 times or more in their life is highest in Denmark, Austria, Czechoslovakia and US (43%-50%). Alcohol is most commonly drunk by boys. Only in Finland and Norway are girls and boys consumption of alcohol equal.6

Ten per cent of US adults and 3% of US adolescent persons are addicted to alcohol or drugs. There are noted similarities of parent-child patterns of substance abuse, such as father-son use of alcohol and tobacco. An understanding of the relationships among substance-using persons and their families is relevant to understanding the etiology of substance dependence and its treatment and for helping other family members to cope with problems associated with substance-using behavior. One family member's substance abuse is often influenced by substance-using behaviors of others in the family, and these complex interrelationships can profoundly affect their lives. Exposure to familial alcoholism has been associated with many behavioral and emotional difficulties among offspring.78

Traditionally, alcohol consumption and smoking are not considered as much of a threat as the abuse of other drugs is. Both substance users and family members often behave as if the substance use that is clearly causing problems is not really a problem-that is, they engage in denial. The reasons for unwillingness to accept the obvious vary. Sometimes denial is self-protective in that the family members believe that, if there is a drug or alcohol problem, then they are responsible. Like the addicts themselves, codependent family members seem unwilling to accept the notion that outside intervention is needed and, despite repeated failures, continue to believe that greater willpower and greater efforts at control can restore tranquility. …

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