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Loss Of Parents Linked To Kids' Substance Use

11 October 2016 Written by 

We know that parents have a profound influence on their child's life, and increasingly, scientific research is connecting the dots between attention or neglect and behavior.

Children who experience the loss of a father or mother early in life are more likely to smoke and drink before they hit their teens, a new study of English families found.

This association between parental absence and risky behavior in childhood occurred no matter whether the cause was death, separation or divorce.  In fact, preteens with an absent parent were more than twice as likely to smoke and drink, the researchers discovered. They defined parental absence as the loss of a biological parent before a child reached age 7.

 

"We know from previous research that people may take up risky health behaviors as a coping strategy or as a form of self-medication, to help them cope with stressful situations," noted Rebecca Lacey, an author of the study and a senior research associate at University College London.

 

Possible evidence of the link between parental absence and behavior comes from an unlikely source from across the pond: President Obama. In a new MTV documentary, "Prescription for Change: Ending America's Opioid Crisis," Obama reveals his past drug use: "When I was a teenager, I used drugs, I drank, I pretty much tried whatever was out there, but I was in Hawaii, and it was a pretty relaxed place. I was lucky that I did not get addicted except to cigarettes, which took me a long time to kick."

 

Notably, Obama's parents divorced around his 3rd birthday, within the parental absence time frame defined by Lacey and her colleagues. Based on her findings, Lacey says, early life assistance provided to children with an absent parent may help prevent substance use, which might set a pattern and lead to poor fitness later in life. "Health behaviors established earlier in life are known to track into adulthood," Lacey and her co-authors wrote in their study, published Monday in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Read more: Divorced, deceased parents linked to kids' smoking and drinking

Content Originally Published By:Susan Scutti @ CNN

Read 402 times Last modified on Tuesday, 01 November 2016 13:25
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