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Father Absence and Substance Abuse | Father Hunger - How Father Absence Impacts Our Youth

Father Absence and Substance Abuse

Parents, especially fathers, really are the anti-drug.

Children are more likely to use and abuse drugs when they grow up without involved, responsible, and committed fathers in their lives. Drugs and alcohol often serve as surrogates for children who experience a lack of love from and emotional connection to their family and community. Good dads step into that void and raise children who are less likely to use drugs.

The Facts

  • Researchers at Columbia University found that children living in two-parent households with a poor relationship with their father are 68% more likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs compared to all teens in two-parent households. Moreover, teens in single-mother households fared much worse. They had a 30% higher risk than those in all two-parent households.1
  • Father closeness reduces the number of a child’s friends who smoke tobacco, drink, and use marijuana. Father closeness also reduces a child’s use of alcohol, cigarettes, and hard drugs. Also, intact (married, two-parent) families ranked higher on father closeness than single parent families.2
  1. “Survey Links Teen Drug Use, Relationship With Father.” Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly 6 September 1999:5.
  2. National Fatherhood Initiative. “Family Structure, Father Closeness, & Drug Abuse.” Gaithersburg, MD: National Fatherhood Initiative, 2004:20-22.
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