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Parents who share their own drug experiences with kids might do more harm than good

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Parents who relate stories of their own experiences with drug or alcohol use might not be helping their kids in the way they think they are.

New research in the journal Human Communication Research discovered that parents who didn't fess up to past drug indiscretions around their kids had children that showed stronger anti-drug attitudes.

Substance abuse talks influence how kids feel

Past research on the subject found that teens may be less likely to use or abuse drugs if their parents had told them stories of their own challenges or experiences with drug use.

But the new study disagrees, showing that parental stories about regret or negative consequences of drug use made kids less likely to report "anti-substance-use perceptions."

"Parents may want to reconsider whether they should talk to their kids about times when they used substances in the past and not volunteer such information," said study author Jennifer A. Kam, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The researchers say that even if messages about past drug use are told to convey a learning experience or painful lesson parents wish to spare their children, they might have negative consequences for kids in the long run.

What parents can say to kids about drug use

The study found that conveying specific messages about drug use while leaving out personal stories or past experiences can allow parents to help children develop anti-substance-use perceptions. These messages include how to avoid substances, family rules about substance use and stories about other people who have had negative consequences as a result of substance abuse. These messages, Kam thinks, may ultimately help kids avoid substance abuse.

Source: Science Daily