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Differential effects of parental “drug talk” styles and family communication environments on adolescent substance use

APA Citation:

Shin, Y., Miller-Day, M., & Hecht, M.L. (2019). Differential effects of parental “drug talk” styles and family communication environments on adolescent substance use. Health Communication, 34(80), 872-880. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2018.1439268

Abstract Created by REACH:

Discussions on drug use between parents and their adolescents, termed drug talks, are essential, as parents are influential in adolescents’ decisions to use drugs. This study examined the relationships among parent-adolescent drug talk style, family communication environments, and substance use among adolescents (N = 718 ninth graders). Four drug talk styles reflected how often and how directly substance use was discussed in the family; the styles included situated direct, ongoing direct, situated indirect, and ongoing indirect. Key dimensions of family communication environments studied in this article were expressiveness (e.g., open communication), structural traditionalism (e.g., parents underscore the importance of power and obedience), and conflict avoidance. Results indicated that family environments that foster expressiveness and structural traditionalism were related to lower levels of adolescent substance use, while conflict avoidance was associated with higher levels of adolescent substance use. Additionally, adolescents receiving ongoing indirect messages (likely after talking with their parents about substance use for several years by 9th grade) reported the lowest substance use.


Substance use

Subject Affiliation:



Adolescence (13 - 17 yrs)


Cross-Sectional Study
Quantitative Study


Shin, YoungJu, Miller-Day, Michelle, Hecht, Michael L.


The current study examines the relationships among adolescent reports of parent–adolescent drug talk styles, family communication environments (e.g., expressiveness, structural traditionalism, and conflict avoidance), and adolescent substance use. ANCOVAs revealed that the 9th grade adolescents (N = 718) engaged in four styles of “drug talks” with parents (e.g., situated direct, ongoing direct, situated indirect, and ongoing indirect style) and these styles differed in their effect on adolescent substance use. Multiple regression analyses showed that expressiveness and structural traditionalism were negatively related to adolescent substance use, whereas conflict avoidance was positively associated with substance use. When controlling for family communication environments and gender, adolescents with an ongoing indirect style reported the lowest use of substance. The findings suggest implications and future directions for theory and practice.

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University, YHS
Department of Communication Studies, Chapman University, MMD
REAL Prevention, LLC, MMD
REAL Prevention, LLC, MLH


youth substance use, parent-adolescent communication: substance use, Family communication environments

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


This work was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to The Pennsylvania State University (Michael Hecht, Principal Investigator) [grant number R01DA021670].

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