A new study suggests that emotional support from middle school teachers may help reduce students from engaging in alcohol and other illicit substance abuse. The study was conducted on a group of 521 Seattle middle school students. Those students who found emotional support from middle school teachers showed a delay in their use of alcohol and illicit substance use. The students reported that finding emotional support from a teacher helped them better able to talk about their problems.
The study also showed that middle school students with higher level of separation anxiety from their parents were not as likely to start using alcohol and other substances early in life as compared to those students who showed lower levels of separation anxiety.
According to lead researcher of the study, Dr. Carolyn McCarty, “This is the first data-driven study which shows that teacher support is associated with lower levels of early alcohol use.”
The study also found that students who started using alcohol and other illicit substances before the sixth grade showed higher levels of depressive symptoms. Also, students in the sixth grade who were experiencing stressful life events were more likely to use illicit substances by the eighth grade.
McCarty added, “We need to be aware of and monitor early adolescent stress levels and parents, teachers and adults need to tune into kids’ mental health.”
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