Despite the increasing relevance of peers, parents remain important socializing agents for their adolescent children and are therefore promising agents for inclusion in prevention or intervention programs. This systematic review provides an overview of the effectiveness of parent-based programs in preventing, curbing or reducing substance use (i.e. alcohol, tobacco and cannabis) among 10 to 18-year-olds. The databases PubMed, PsychInfo, Eric and Google Scholar were used to identify randomized trials published within the past 12 years evaluating effects on adolescent substance use. Of the 653 identified in the first screening, 39 publications dealing with 13 programs were included. Results reveal desirable effects of parenting measures such as rule-setting, monitoring and parent-child communication. There was also some evidence in terms of preventing, curbing or reducing adolescent substance use. However, this appears to depend particularly on the age group of the adolescents in question, the kind of parents included and the intensity of the program. To conclude, the results of this systematic review underline the importance of including parents in programs aiming to impede initiation of substance use or curb or reduce already existing substance use in adolescence.