Smoking and Alcohol Addictions

The following is taken from a  news release from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University:

The nicotine in tobacco products poses a significant danger of structural and chemical changes in developing brains that can make teens more vulnerable to alcohol and other drug addiction and to mental illness.

…teens who smoke are nine times likelier to meet the medical criteria for past year alcohol abuse or dependence and 13 times likelier to meet the medical criteria for abuse and dependence on an illegal drug than teens who don’t smoke.  (80% of smokers start before they are 18)

Smoking and Alcohol and Illegal Drug Use

Compared to 12- to 17-year olds who don’t smoke, those who do are more than five times likelier to drink and 13 times likelier to use marijuana than nonsmokers.

Compared to those who never smoked, those who began smoking at age 12 or younger are:

· More than three times likelier to binge drink;

· Nearly 15 times likelier to smoke marijuana; and

· Nearly seven times likelier to use other illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

Smoking and Mental Health Disorders

The CASA analysis also found that among teens ages 12 to 17, twice as many smokers as nonsmokers suffered from symptoms of depression in the past year. Teens who reported early initiation of smoking were more likely to experience serious feelings of hopelessness, depression and worthlessness in the past year.

The report also notes that smoking at a young age is related to panic attacks, general anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Preventing Your Kids from Smoking

Be very clear with your children that smoking will not be tolerated.

Make sure they know what discipline consequences they will face if they do smoke.  (Be consistent in your discipline.  First-time offenses should be punished.

If you smoke, stop.  Children of smokers are more likely to smoke.

Be a “hands-on” parent.  This type of parent knows where their children are at all times, and knows who they are with.   Hands-on parents also set limits on TV and computer time, and the types of TV and movies their kids watch.   Kids of “hands-off” parents are more than 50 percent more likely to smoke, drink and do drugs.

Eat meals together as a family.  Studies show that the more family meals you have, the less likely your kids will be to engage in risky behaviors.

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