How family dinners help kids avoid drugs and alcohol

Michael Dennis, PhD Psychologist, shares advice for parents on how nightly family dinners can benefit your kids by helping them to avoid drugs and alcohol
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How family dinners help kids avoid drugs and alcohol

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One of the simplest ways that you can make a difference in trying to reduce your teen´s risk of substance use or going on to become addicted is to start the practice of at least once a week sitting down and having dinner as a family. A family dinner is a time when you can talk, you can go back and forth. You don´t want to have the TV on or text messages going on. It is a time to come together as a family to share stories, to find out how people are feeling, to hear what is going on and what they care about. Starting when they are younger establishes a relationship of trust and respect and being able to communicate about emotions and problems and struggles with peers that they may be going through. It gives them the social skills and knowledge. It puts them a better place when they do get out as older teenagers into a situation where they may have to negotiate use. That trust is also important for them to be able to open up to you and come to you once they do start using or getting into trouble. If you have got that foundation of a trusting relationship, you may not be able to stop them from experimenting or even getting into trouble but the time between when they do and when they talk to you about it is going to get shorter if you have established that kind of relationship.

Michael Dennis, PhD Psychologist, shares advice for parents on how nightly family dinners can benefit your kids by helping them to avoid drugs and alcohol

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Michael Dennis, PhD

Psychologist

Michael Dennis, PhD, is a senior research psychologist and Director of the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) coordinating center at Chestnut Health Systems in Normal, Illinois. Over the past 25 years his primary area of research has been to better understand and manage addiction and recovery over the life course. This includes multiple clinical trials to compare the effectiveness of adolescent treatment approaches and recovery support services, longitudinal studies with adolescents, adults and older adults to understand the predictors of entering and sustaining recovery, and creating the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) coordinating center for teaching evidenced based assessment to support clinical decision making at the individual level and program evaluation. He has multiple awards for moving the field from science to practice, promoting diversity through practice based evidence and bringing more people into the field.

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