Parent-child relationship and substance use in adolescence

Sara Alfieri, Elena Marta

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The consumption of psychoactive substances by adolescents is an extremely widespread phenomenon (ISTAT, 2007), and has long been the focus of scholars. Not all teenagers consume these substances and, even among those that do, levels vary from short and occasional forays to high and persistent involvement (Ary & Biglan, 1988; Kandel, 1998; Kandel, Hu, Griesler & Schaffran, 2007). The different levels of use support the idea that use is transitory in certain age groups, and that use may be part of the developmental process (Silbereisen & Lerner, 2007). Moreover, adolescents can exhibit different transgressive behaviors jointly: cannabis use, alcohol use and abuse, and smoking (Bonino, Cattelino, Ciairano, 2003). Family context plays a central role and can have an important protective role in adolescents’ risk behaviors (Marta, 1997; Caprara & Scabini 2000; Bonino & Cattelino 1999). Specifically, parents’ willingness to communicate with their children and support them is central in protecting adolescents from risky situations (Barbaranelli, Regalia & Pastorelli, 1998; Calandri, Borca, Begotti & Cattelino, 2004). Moreover, a large body of research has also supported the association between parental monitoring and adolescents’ psychosocial adjustment (Jacobson & Crockett, 2000; Stattin & Kerr, 2000). But does only the family serve this function? Or, do other important adults present in schools (e.g., teachers) or communities (e.g., coaches) function as protective factors, either working with or substituting parents? Preliminary analyses of data in the present study highlight a new and interesting configuration. The aims of this work are three-fold: 1. To investigate the quality of mother-child and father-child relationships (communication, support, monitoring) in relation to the gender and age of adolescents; 2. To investigate whether there is a relationship between the quality of mother-child and father-child relationships and substance use; and 3. To investigate the protective role (either together with or substituting) of parents and teachers with respect to substance use. Participants completed the HBSC self-report questionnaire. The implications of the present work center on the area of prevention, on the promotion of interventions aimed not just at the family, but also simultaneously to teachers and other important adults in adolescents’ communities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHome, School and Commnity: A Partnership For a Happy Life?
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Event8th International Conference of European Research Network about Parents in Education - Milano
Duration: 29 Jun 20111 Jul 2011


Conference8th International Conference of European Research Network about Parents in Education


  • adolescence
  • parent-child relationships
  • substance use


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