Report: Frequent Family Dinners Make a Big Difference in Teens’ Substance Use

A new white paper from CASAColumbia reports that family dinners make a big difference in teens’ use of illegal substances. The Importance of Family Dinners VIII found that teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven per week) are more likely to report excellent relationships with their parents and therefore are less likely to use marijuana, alcohol or tobacco than teens who have infrequent family dinners (two or less per week).
CASAColumbia surveyed teenagers 12 to 17 years old in order to arm parents with the information they need to help their children develop life skills and choose a substance free lifestyle. The findings presented are from The National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens.
In 2012, 57 percent of teens reported having family dinners at least five times a week. The results show frequent family dinners increased the amount of parental knowledge about their kids’ lives. On average, teens with frequent family dinners were three times less likely to use drugs, drink or smoke compared to teens that have infrequent family dinners.

Findings also show that teens that have family dinners at least five times per week are one and a half time less likely to experience high levels of stress than teens that do not. Why is so stress important? Teens who say they experience high levels of stress on average are twice as likely to use substances as teens with low stress levels.
Research findings on the importance of family dinners in 2001 inspired the creation of an annual, national day of celebration, CASAColumbia Family Day –A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children™. Family Day is celebrated every year on the fourth Monday in September as a reminder to parents of the importance of family dinners and talking with their children.
“What we’ve learned is that parents have the greatest influence on whether their teens will choose not to use,” stated CASAColumbia. Proven through research and report results, parents who are “hands-on” and attentive in teen’s lives will significantly decrease their likelihood of engaging in substance use. Bottom line: Frequent family dinners make a big difference!

Kat Shannon is a Digital Communications intern at Prichard Communications, where she assists on several accounts, including Reclaiming Futures. She is a student at the University of Oregon studying Public Relations, with a minor in Business Administration. She is an Oregon native and a California dreamer.  

Updated: March 21 2018