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Early Interventions May Prevent Teen Substance Abuse

Early Interventions May Prevent Teen Substance Abuse

New research suggests it is never too early to begin interventions to reduce the risk of teen substance abuse.

Investigators from the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) discovered that in some settings, interactions to prevent alcohol and drug use should begin in early childhood.

“The children of parents with alcohol problems are at much greater risk for underage drinking and developing a substance use disorder,” said the study’s author, Rina Das Eiden, Ph.D., senior research scientist at RIA.

“It’s important to understand when and under what circumstances such problems develop, so we can craft interventions to steer this high-risk population away from substance use and its attendant problems.”

Eiden examined different pathways to adolescent substance use, starting in infancy, for children of parents with alcohol use disorder (AUD). She found that maternal warmth and sensitivity in early childhood played a significant role.

“When mothers can be warm and sensitive during interactions with their toddlers, even under the stresses associated with their partners’ alcohol problems, there is a lower likelihood of adolescent substance use,” Eiden says.

Parents with AUD demonstrated lower rates of maternal sensitivity toward their toddlers, continuing into kindergarten age, Eiden found.

As the children entered middle school (sixth grade), their mothers were less likely to monitor peer groups and activities, leading to higher engagement with substance-using and delinquent peers and drinking in early adolescence (eight grade).

Investigators discovered these children also displayed lower self-regulation, or the ability to behave according to rules without supervision, at preschool age.

The low self-control can lead to problem behaviors from kindergarten age to early adolescence, and higher alcohol and marijuana use in late adolescence.

The results have implications for both the timing and content of preventive interventions against substance use among adolescents of parents with AUD.

Timing interventions in early childhood and before major developmental transitions, such as transition to school and moving from elementary to middle school, may be most beneficial, say the researchers.

For content, the most helpful interventions would be to encourage and support mothers in being warm and sensitive during interactions with their toddlers, and to keep a close eye their children’s activities and peer groups during the transition from middle childhood to early adolescence.

“This attention also would promote children’s self-regulation in the preschool years, which may lead to a decrease in problem behaviors from school age into adolescence,” Eiden says.

Source: University of Buffalo

Early Interventions May Prevent Teen Substance Abuse

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Early Interventions May Prevent Teen Substance Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/11/17/early-interventions-may-prevent-teen-substance-abuse/112670.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 17 Nov 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Nov 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.