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Report Illustrates Complexities of Teen Substance Use

By Maryland Today Staff

Research produced in collaboration with the University of Maryland School of Public Health finds that while adolescent substance use is often associated with lower socioeconomic status, kids of all classes are vulnerable.

For example, lower socioeconomic status is accompanied by a higher likelihood of engaging in cigarette smoking, but excessive drinking disproportionately affects upper middle-class families.

The research, published in the latest edition of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s Emerging Drug Trends report, helps illustrate how different parenting styles, schools and socioeconomic statuses can influence the likelihood that teens engage in substance use.

Amelia Arria, professor of behavioral and community health at Maryland, and her colleagues established a questionnaire to measure levels of parental monitoring, which includes questions about parental supervision and communication surrounding teens’ social activities.

Using Arria’s tool and other measures, researchers have found that when parents enforce a zero-tolerance policy regarding substance use, spend more time with their teens and communicate openly about alcohol and other substances, their teens are less likely to use substances.

Arria directs the Center on Young Adult Health and Development, co-directs the Maryland Collaborative to Reduce College Drinking and Related Problems and conducts research related to teen and college student risk factors for alcohol and other drug abuse.

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