What Makes Teens Do Drugs
FRIDAY, July 25 (HealthDayNews) -- Teenage boys who drink, smoke and use drugs are influenced more by family and friends while genes are more likely to increase the risk of substance abuse in teenage girls, says a Virginia Commonwealth University study.
"Our findings show that risk factors for substance abuse are different in boys and girls," researcher Judy L. Silberg, an assistant professor of human genetics, says in a news release.
"In girls, there was a significant genetic influence on all substance abuse in adolescence. But, with boys, environmental factors, including a dysfunctional family and peers who use drugs and alcohol, had a pervasive influence," Silberg says.
She and her colleagues examined data collected over three years on 1,071 adolescent twin girls and boys, aged 12 to 17, taking part in the Virginia Twin Study of Adolescent Behavioral Development.
Their statistical analysis revealed that no single risk factor was to blame for substance abuse in male or female teens. In both girls and boys, genetics and environment were factors, but their degree of influence varied for boys and girls.
The study findings could affect the way that teens are treated for substance abuse.
"Because girls' use of substances is controlled by the same genes that are linked to behavioral problems, treatment efforts that target the antisocial behavior itself may be effective. Boys' substance use may be reduced by directly altering those family and peer characteristics that are most influential," Silberg says.
The study appears in the July issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines.
Here's where you can learn more about substance abuse.
SOURCE: Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, news release, July 18, 2003
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