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Parents who use illegal drugs, abuse alcohol and use tobacco put half the nation’s children – more than 35 million of them – at greater risk of substance abuse and of physical and mental illnesses, according to a new 81-page white paper, Family Matters: Substance Abuse and the American Family, released by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA*) at Columbia University.
The CASA Report Finds:
“Kids don’t read their parents’ lips, they watch their parents’ actions. That’s what makes the findings in the paper such a tragedy,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA’s Chairman and President and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. “Too many parents set examples that increase the risk their children will smoke, use illegal drugs and abuse alcohol. Children of substance abusing parents are much likelier to become substance abusers themselves. The good news is that parents who behave responsibly – who don’t smoke, abuse alcohol or use illegal drugs – have a positive influence on their children, steering them away from substance abuse.”
The CASA white paper also finds that alcohol and drug-abusing parents are 3 times likelier to abuse their children and 4 times likelier to neglect them than parents who do not abuse these substances. Children of alcohol and drug abusers are at increased risk of accidents, injuries and academic failure. Such children are more likely to suffer conduct disorders, depression or anxiety, conditions that increase the risk children will smoke, drink and use drugs.
Children exposed to their parents’ second-hand smoke are at greater risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, asthma and ear infections. They are likelier to have their tonsils or adenoids surgically removed. Over the long term, these children are at greater risk of cancer and heart disease.
“If substance abusing parents are not concerned about what drugs, alcohol and tobacco are doing to themselves, they should be concerned about the ill effects they have on their children,” noted Califano. “This should serve as a powerful incentive for parents to seek the treatment they need.”
To assist parents, the CASA white paper contains two guides: 10 Steps Parents Can Take to Prevent Teen Substance Abuse, and Signs and Symptoms of Teen Substance Abuse.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University is the only national organization that brings together under one roof all the professional disciplines needed to study and combat all types of substance abuse as they affect all aspects of society. CASA's missions are to: inform Americans of the economic and social costs of substance abuse and its impact on their lives; assess what works in prevention, treatment and law enforcement; encourage every individual and institution to take responsibility to combat substance abuse and addiction; provide those on the front lines with tools they need to succeed; and remove the stigma of substance abuse and replace shame and despair with hope. For more information visit www.CASAColumbia.org.
*The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University is neither affiliated with, nor sponsored by, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (also known as "CASA") or any of its member organizations with the name of "CASA."