Under the Influence: Fathers, Adolescents, & Alcohol Use
By Virginia Hartman
A recent statistical report from SAMHSA emphasizes the influence of fathers—in particular, the influence of a father’s drinking habits on his children.
The report, Fathers’ Alcohol Use and Substance Use among Adolescents, cites data from SAMHSA’s 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
Almost 1 in 12 fathers living with adolescents age 12 to 17 had an alcohol use disorder, while 68.1 percent used alcohol in the past year but did not have an alcohol use disorder. A total of 24.1 percent of fathers did not use alcohol in the past year.
Past-year alcohol use among adolescents was lower for those who lived with a father who did not use alcohol in the past year (21.1 percent) than for those who lived with a father who used alcohol but did not have an alcohol use disorder (33.2 percent).
For adolescents who lived with a father with an alcohol use disorder, the rate of past-year alcohol use was 38.8 percent.
Data show that adolescent illicit drug use was higher in households where the father drank alcohol. Of young people age 12 to 17 who lived with a father who drank alcohol in the past year but did not have an abuse disorder, 18.4 percent used illicit drugs.
That number increased to 24.2 percent for adolescents living with a father who did have an alcohol use disorder. Among those living with a father who abstained from alcohol in the past year, illicit drug use was lower: 14.0 percent.
Public awareness is increasing about the impact of paternal alcohol use and abuse on children.
Data used in this report are based on responses from 11,056 fathers and 9,537 father-child pairs. The report was developed by SAMHSA’s Office of Applied Studies (OAS).
Download Fathers’ Alcohol Use and Substance Use among Adolescents.
*Binge alcohol use is defined as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on at least 1 day in the past 30 days.
Source: 2002 to 2007 SAMHSA National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUHs).
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