The effects of perceived parenting style on the propensity for illicit drug use: the importance of parental warmth and control


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    Laura Craig MSc, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancs, UK.

School of Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, 15–21 Webster Street, Liverpool L3 2ET, UK. Tel: 44 (0) 151 231 4072. Fax: 44 (0) 151 231 4245. E-mail:


Introduction and Aims. Research in adolescents has shown that parental warmth and control are important factors in drug use. The present study focused upon investigating perceived parental warmth and control in a sample of post-adolescent ecstasy/polydrug users, and investigating their relationship to severity of drug use. Design and Methods. A total of 128 (65 male) ecstasy/polydrug users, 51 (17 male), cannabis-only users and 54 (13 male) non-users were recruited from a university population. All participants completed the parenting styles and drug use questionnaires. Results. Compared to non-users, a greater proportion of ecstasy/polydrug users characterised their parents' style as neglectful. The modal style endorsed by non-users was authoritative. Those who rated their parents' style as authoritative had significantly lower lifetime consumption and average dose of ecstasy relative to those describing their parents as neglectful. Again, relative to those describing their parents as neglectful, participants from authoritarian backgrounds had significantly smaller lifetime consumption of ecstasy and cocaine and significantly smaller average doses of cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine. Contrary to expectation, there was no significant association between perceived parental warmth and the severity of ecstasy use. Discussion and Conclusions. The present study is, to our knowledge, the first to quantify drug use, and relate it to perceived parental practices in a post-adolescent sample of ecstasy/polydrug users. The results provide further support for the relationship between perceived parental control and drug use.