Having authoritarian parents increases the risk of drug use

An international team has analyzed the role that parents play at the time of determining the risk of their children using alcohol, tobacco and cannabis in six European countries: Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

Alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use is very widespread among youths in Spain compared to the majority of European countries, according to data from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

The objective was to clarify the type of parent-child relationship that best protects children from taking drugs, using two variables: parental control and affection.

“Our results support the idea that extremes are not effective: neither authoritarianism nor absence of control and affection. A good relationship with children works well. In this respect, it can go hand in hand with direct control (known as ‘authoritative’ or democratic style) or not (style wrongly called ‘indulgent’),” Amador Calafat, main author of the study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, declared to SINC.

Parenting styles and drug use

Parenting styles and drug useClassification of families is the result of combining the behaviors adopted by various degrees of demand and responsibility. On the one hand, the authoritative model includes families that “give clear rules and affectionately and flexibly reason with the children when asking for their compliance.”

>> Also see: The four parenting styles, defined

The authoritarian model coincides with the authoritative model in that both are demanding and controlling, but it differs in that mothers and fathers show less affection.

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On the other hand, the fathers and mothers of the neglectful and indulgent models are characterized by their low level of control; however, the former are “scarcely affectionate” and the latter are “very emotional.”

The results of the study, which coincide throughout Europe, indicate that the indulgent and authoritative models are those that work best, both for substance use and in personal disorders. “For self-esteem and school performance, it is still better when parents operate with the indulgent style,” Calafat continued.

“This study allows a focus and common discussion in Europe in drug use prevention programs,” added the researcher. The results contrast with previous studies conducted in other cultural settings, where parental demand is “recommended” (mostly English-speakers from the USA) or “essential” (Asian cultures).



In total, 7,718 adolescents (3,774 males and 3,944 females), aged between 11 and 19, were interviewed. “From a global personal health perspective, the ‘authoritative’ and ‘indulgent’ parental styles equally protect against the use of drugs,” Calafat said.

Until now, this last observation was exclusively associated with Mediterranean and South American countries. “However we also see that it is valid for many European countries,” added the IREFREA researcher.



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