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Sharing Past Drug Experiences With Children Can Contribute to Drug Use

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Parents who have struggled with their own drug abuse in the past sometimes hope that their children will learn from their mistakes. However, researchers have bad news for these parents, that this isn't necessarily the case. A survey of nearly 500 Latino and White students from the 6th-8th grades reported that hearing about their parents' past experiences with drug abuse did opposite of the likely intent. In fact, students were less likely to express an anti-drug attitude after hearing abou their parents' drug experiences.

In contrast, children whose parents did not reveal past drug use, and instead gave a strong anti-drug message had stronger anti-drug attitudes. The study, which will be published in the journal of Human Communication Research, sheds a different light on the value of sharing past drug experiences with your children. While previous research has suggested that there was a positive side to parents sharing their past drug abuse problems with their children, such as preventing their children from engaging in similar behavior, this study provides evidence that this might not be the case.

The researchers of the current study suggest that parents might instead focus on discussing family rules against drug use, the dangers of drug use, how to avoid using, and the stories of non-family members who have struggled with drug abuse and its consequences. They also remind that this is just one study that has shown evidence that runs contrary to previous findings and that more research needs to be conducted to solidify the findings.