Respect for Family Can Decrease Risk for Alcohol Misuse

Research on alcohol use has indicated alcohol onset as an important factor in the cascade into other risky behaviors such as drug use, drug dependency, and other addictions. These patterns can lead a young person to engage in risky sexual behaviors and pose risk to their physical, mental, and academic fitness. Because alcohol use usually begins during adolescence, it is important to examine the many lifestyle influences that can increase the risk for alcohol use as well as those that can serve to protect young adults from this behavior. The family environment is one element that can either contribute to alcohol use or buffer a teen from alcohol consumption. Two aspects of this dynamic include parental respect, that is, the respect that a teen has for their parents, and familism, the feeling of belonging to the family. In a recent study led by Regina A. Shih of the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, both of these aspects were considered in the context of alcohol initiation among a diverse sample of adolescents.

The study included more than 6,000 non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and Asian teenagers. The teens were followed for 1 year and were assessed based on cultural and ethnic values, familism, parental respect, and alcohol initiation. Shish utilized resistance self-efficacy measures to gauge alcohol resistance and predicted that the Asian teens would have high levels of parental respect, the Hispanic teens would have high levels of familism, and both would be insulated from alcohol initiation at higher rates than the White or non-Hispanic participants. However, the results revealed that although parental respect was indeed protective, it was most evident among the Asian and White participants. Additionally, contrary to expectations, familism was not a buffering mechanism for Hispanic teens or any of the other participants. In sum, Shih believes that these findings reveal the importance of integrating cultural and relational values into treatments. She added, “Interventions that focus on maintaining strong cultural values and building strong bonds between adolescents and their families may help reduce the risk of alcohol initiation.”

Shih, R. A., Miles, J. N. V., Tucker, J. S., Zhou, A. J., D’Amico, E. J. (2012). Racial/ethnic differences in the influence of cultural values, alcohol resistance self-efficacy, and alcohol expectancies on risk for alcohol initiation. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029254

Related articles:
Helping Children Maintain Balance and Avoid Addiction
Factors Affecting Mental Health in Minority Populations
Family Time

© Copyright 2012 All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • queenie


    August 16th, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    I would think that it is probably true that the closer you are to your family growing up, the less you may want to escape from that world by using alcohol and drugs.

    That degree of closeness that you have with your family will make you want to make them proud and not disappoint them, which is what you know that using these drugs would do.

    This is even more encouragement to parents to keep that relationship with their children close and keep the lines of communication open with them.

  • Claude


    August 16th, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Although I do consume alcohol and even overdo it at certain times(I am in no way addicted, only meant the occasional more-than-a-buzz),I feel that being with my family and actually interacting with them on a daily basis does prevent me from all that.When I was in a different city and hardly saw my parents this behavior went up but now that I’m back in my own city and meet and dine with my parents frequently,I can definitely say I am not as motivated towards alcohol as before.It may be the loneliness or it may be the attachment but family connection does help.

  • N.L


    August 16th, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    Familial attachment can vary from one family to another but it also depends on the individual. there is no guarantee that a closely knit family will not have one child who goes on to become addicted to alcohol!There are a lot of other factors that can determine alcohol dependence so I will not read too much into this.

  • leif y

    leif y

    August 17th, 2012 at 4:18 AM

    Family strength only goes so far when young kids are already facing the pressure from their friends to drink and go out and have fun, and many times that includes drinking and drugs.
    The culture that many of them are raised in encourages bad behavior, and when they see this at home, in the movies, in music videos, this is the life that many of them begin to aspire to as well.
    I hope that as more families realize what a sway they potentially could have over their children that they will choose to get even more involved than they are right now.
    Until that time we are still as a society going to be facing a generation of young people who are lost and looking for guidance.

  • Celesta


    August 17th, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    I have a very hard time with this, because there are lots of families that I would deem to have really deep and special relationships with other family members yet they too have been hit with an addiction within the family.
    Sometimes I have to think that it is more a matter of the things that an individual is going through and the group of friends that he hangs around with that can encourage this kind of behavior over what kind of familial bonds there are.
    Don’t you remember how it was to be a teenager and being so afraid of being deemed uncool by not taking a drink or smoking? Kids today are still facing those very same challenges, and sadly many of them do all of this without their parents having any idea that there is a problem until it is too late to turn back.

  • Juan


    August 18th, 2012 at 8:09 AM

    I am surprised to see that the close knot family experience that I think is widespread among the Hispanic community in which I live has very little buffering between teens and their decisions to drink. I know that when I was growing up, and I still see this today, there are many Hispanic homes that stay completetly involved in their childrens lives, and their kids come to respect that great deal. And you never want to let that family down by making stupid or irrational decisions. It would bring shame on you, your family, and your entire community. I am hoping that in a further study we can look at why this does not work as well among many minority cultures and determine what would so that we can all make some adjustments.

  • Ericka


    August 19th, 2012 at 5:24 AM

    don’t believe this at all
    don’t you remember being teenager?
    did it matter to you whether you close or not with family?
    you just worry what friends will say if you do or don’t drink
    might stop you from getting in too far over head
    maybe not depending on how far willing to take it
    might be some hope to stop if parents have eyes and ears open, looking for the signs
    but close to family never the only answer

  • Sera


    August 20th, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    I feel a little torn, because I can see this issue from multiple sides. Maybe family closeness could be a deterrent, but that will all deepnd on just how badly a teen wants to impress friends and fit in with the crowd. Not everyone will develop a subsequent drinking problem but there are enough who will to take this seriously.
    I see far too many parents who just want to push their kids off on others and let the babysitter be the TV. That is beghavior that will surely drive them to seek comfort in alcohol or drugs later on, so it is critical that we nurture our relationships with our kids from a very early age.
    I don’t want to take any chances that they would rather curl up with a bottle of alcohol over talking to me about stuff that they could be going through/

  • Jeremy


    August 21st, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    Many times with adolescents it does not just have to be a family member that they are close to. That would be ideal of course but they don’t all have that. So many times they will become close with a teacher or counselor who could also be that en couragement for them to stay on the straight and narrow and not to fall into those traps that can so easily be stumbled into at this age.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.