A study recently published in the Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions titled “Types of Substance Use and Punitive Parenting: A Preliminary Exploration” has uncovered troubling results when it comes to parental cannabis use and child discipline.
The researchers looked at data collected in 2009 from 3,023 randomly selected parents of children 12 years old or younger, in fifty cities throughout California. The survey covered nonviolent discipline techniques such as timeouts, loss of privileges and redirecting behavior, violent discipline like corporal punishment, and even physical abuse.
According to the study, parents who used alcohol, “marijuana,” methamphetamines, and other illicit drugs showed an increase in nonviolent and violent discipline behaviors. Surprisingly, parents who reported using cannabis within the last year had the greatest frequency of physical abuse behaviors. Additionally, pairing alcohol with all three drug types increased the frequency of both non-violent and violent discipline behaviors, with comorbid alcohol and cannabis use significantly increasing the frequency of physical abuse.
What many media groups have failed to mention in their reporting on this topic, however, is that parents who reported lifetime cannabis use showed similar physical abuse rates as non-drug users and non-drinkers.
“…[F]indings indicated lifetime marijuana use was associated with a lower frequency of physical abuse while past-year marijuana use was associated with a higher frequency of physical abuse,” the study authors wrote.
“When evaluated in relation to comorbid alcohol use, we observe that the highest average frequencies were attributed to categories for past-year drinker, past-year marijuana user, whereas the lowest average frequencies were attributed to both non-drinker, no drug use and lifetime marijuana users. Over 92% of past-year marijuana users also reported comorbid past-year alcohol use, which may be driving high physical abuse frequencies observed for past-year marijuana use.” — Excerpt from the study
Lastly, the study found that as the number of substances used together increased, rates of discipline likewise increased across all drug types.
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