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Family Dinners: Anti-Drug?

Family Enjoying meal,mealtime TogetherCan family dinners act as an anti-drug? According to “The Importance of Family Dinners,” a new report by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, teens who have frequent family dinners (five or more per week) are less likely to use alcohol or drugs. In fact, those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than three per week) are twice as likely to use tobacco or marijuana; more than one and a half times likelier to use alcohol; and twice as likely to try drugs in the future than those teens who had frequent family dinners.

The report also found that compared to teens who have five to seven family dinners per week, those who have fewer than three family dinners per week are:

  • Twice as likely to have friends who use marijuana and ecstasy.
  • More than one and a half times likelier to have friends who drink, abuse prescription drugs, and use methamphetamine.
  • Almost one and a half times likelier to have friends who use illegal drugs like cocaine, acid and heroin.

So what can you do? Try to schedule at least one night a week that your family can sit down to dinner. Be sure to make it a time that you talk with each other, so turning off the television and disconnecting from other electronics might be beneficial. Some experts recommend planning meals ahead of time and even making them earlier in the wee and then freezing them. This will allow parents with a busy schedule to still allow time to sit down and eat together. Another suggestion is to have the kids help with preparing the meal, which might take less time and leave more time for eating it. Remember it isn’t so much the food you prepare as the time you spend around the table together. So even if it is take-out, turn off the electronics, sit down at the table, and start talking and listening! Enjoy your family meal. Happy Thanksgiving!

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