Youths Perceived Parental Influence on Substance Use Changes and Motivation to Seek Treatment

  • Kristin CleverleyEmail author
  • Meaghan Grenville
  • Joanna Henderson


Drug and alcohol use among youth has serious consequences for the physical and mental health of youth and strains their relationships with family and friends. While the task of dealing with substance-related issues often falls on families, particularly parents, very little research has explored the importance of family as a motivator for seeking treatment. This paper reports on a qualitative study of youth seeking substance abuse treatment at a large urban psychiatric hospital. Following primarily self-determination theory, the study examines youths’ descriptions of how their parents motivated them to (1) change their substance use behaviors and (2) seek treatment. The sample consisted of 31 youth ages 17 to 25 engaged in outpatient services with various substance use concerns. Youth described complex and evolving relationships with their parents along their journey to enter treatment. Implications for service delivery and important insights for engaging youth and their parents are discussed.


Compliance with Ethical Standards

The study protocol was submitted and approved by the Institutional Research Ethics Board.

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© National Council for Behavioral Health 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of NursingUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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