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The Impact of Substance Use During Middle School and Young Adulthood on Parent-Young Adult Relationships

Changes in substance use during adolescence and young adulthood can strain the parent-child relationship during this time, which is critical for well being as a child matures. A recent study examined the relationship between adolescent and young adult marijuana and alcohol use and the resulting parent-young adult dynamic.

In this study, the National Institute on Drug Abuse conducted a project to conduct family-based substance use prevention in over 500 at-risk adolescents. These students and their parents were followed and surveyed at ages 12, 13, 14, 15, and 20.

At age 20, 54% of the sample of students was living with their parents, 24% were attending college, and 14% had not graduated high school. 22% reported daily marijuana use, and 48% reported multiple instances of binge drinking.  When compared to the parents’ data, the results indicated that high-risk use of marijuana and alcohol during adolescence and young adulthood negatively impacted the quality of parent-child relationships. Initiation of marijuana use in young adulthood also exhibited this effect. In all adolescents and young adults who used alcohol and were minorities, quality of parent-young adult relationship was lower. More research is needed for specific impact of quality of young adult-parent relationships.

Take Away: Adolescents and young adults who exhibit high-risk use of alcohol and marijuana, as well as young adults who initiate marijuana use, are likely to have poorer quality of young adult-parent relationships.

Stormshak, E.A., DeGarmo, D.S., Chronister, K.M., Caruthers, A.S., Stapleton, J., et al. (2019). The Impact of Substance Use During Middle School and Young Adulthood on Parent-Young Adult Relationships. Journal of Family Psychology. doi.org/10.1037/fam0000549.

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