Being involved at school doesn’t always keep teens away from drugs

The Lee and Vandell study mentioned earlier in this article, used data from a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development study on 766 kids from 10 different cities who were enrolled as infants in 1991. Researchers focused on the teens’ activities at age 15 and then again at the end of high school.

They found that teens who spent the most time unsupervised with their friends relative to the average amount for the entire group were as much as 39 percent more likely to smoke cigarettes, 47 percent more likely to drink alcohol and up to 71 percent more likely to smoke marijuana ABOVE the average amount for the group.

The researchers also analyzed a variety of contexts, including after-school activities and the differences in risk with the time spent with their peers. The study suggests that parent involvement and providing structured activities for teens could be a positive way to counter the trend.

“Parents need to set rules around alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco use among teenagers and there have to be consequences,” said Jenn Matheson, a marriage and family therapist in private practice in Longmont, Colorado. Matheson was not involved in the study, but admits that it has interesting implications for families across the country.

Teens need their parents in their life.

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