Previous reviews have highlighted parent–child connectedness and communication as important protective factors against adolescent substance use. However, these reviews focus on single substances such as alcohol. An integrative review of the literature was conducted to examine which elements of parent–child connectedness and substance-use specific communication are effective across adolescent alcohol, tobacco and drug use. Forty-two English language, peer reviewed articles were reviewed. Open communication occurs within the context of high connectedness between parents and their children. Conversations about health risks are associated with lower levels of substance use while more frequent conversations, those about parents’ own use, permissive messages and consequences of use are associated with higher levels of use. There are disparities regarding conversations about use of each substance: alcohol and tobacco are easier topics of conversation while drug use is rarely discussed. Parental alcohol and tobacco use can influence the credibility of their communication with their child. Parents should be encouraged to have open, constructive, credible, two-sided conversations with their adolescents about substance use. Interventions to improve parents’ communication skills around substance use, particularly drug use, should include the types of approaches and messages highlighted in this review, and, where possible, these interventions should include all family members.
- parent-child communication