The most effective measure against cigarette smoking, drug abuse, and alcohol use by teens is not rehab or counseling, jail time or other types of punishments and interventions, says the Los Angeles Times. Research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University shows that one of the most effective ways to keep children off alcohol and drugs is for parents to sit down with them at dinnertime.
The annual teen survey by the addiction center has consistently revealed a strong correlation between the frequency of family dinners and teen substance abuse risk. This year, 58 percent of teens reported having dinner with their family at least five times a week – the same as in the last few years and an increase since 1996, the first year the survey was done. Among the obstacles to family dining: One out of four teens say both their parents work late. Twenty-two percent say their family is too busy, and 21 percent say conflicting schedules are to blame. Also, 18 percent said that either the family does not choose to eat together or is watching television at mealtime.