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Perceived family favoritism may lead to substance abuse

A new study from Brigham Young University found that inequality in family relationships, or at least the perception of inequality, may increase the risk of substance use in those children who believe they are the less-favored child. The study found that the perception of preferential treatment is linked to increased incidence of alcohol, cigarette and drug use among the less-favored children.

In the context of substance abuse prevention, these findings highlight family dynamics as a risk factor for the development of substance abuse disorders. Given these findings, family dynamics should be, at the very least, a consideration in youth substance abuse prevention programs.

The Portfolio of Canadian Standards for Youth Drug Prevention is one example of a youth substance abuse prevention resource that does address family relationships – both as a risk factor and protective factor. At the level of family, the Canadian Standards for Youth Drug Prevention promotes communication among family members and encourages positive relationships between parents and youth – both of which serve as protective factors for the development of substance abuse.

Do your prevention program consider family relationships (or a lack thereof)? If yes, how? If no, how come?
Will these findings change the way you consider the influence of family relationships on substance abuse prevention?