Risk Factors in Adolescent Drug Abuse

The more an adolescent is exposed to these risk factors, the likelier it becomes that he or she will experiment with drugs.
Risk factors play a major role in the likeliness of drug use among adolescents.

Certain risk factors may be more dominant than others in particular stages of development.  Teenagers are more prone to drug abuse because of peer pressure or other environmental factors. A key role in prevention is to ensure that the preventative measures outweigh the risk factors.

Research shows that the highest point of risk for adolescent drug use is during a major transition in life. Usually, the first transition is from the safety and security of the home, into school. Once the child advances out of elementary school into junior high or high school, the factors may increase due to academic, social or athletic pressures. At this point, they may also be exposed to drugs more often and more easily. It is most likely during this transition period that he or she may experience drugs for the first time.

Since the adolescent’s first interactions in life start within the family, it is important to understand that most major risk factors start at home. A lack of parental attachment and nurturing, a parent or caregiver that uses drugs or problems with ineffective parenting can all significantly increase the chances of adolescent drug use. While there are other risk factors for drug use, including poor social skills, issues in a classroom, or association with peers that use drugs, the first steps to prevention start at the home. Maintaining a strong bond with the child while maintaining involved with open communication, along with providing a structured and disciplined home, can greatly decrease the chances of drug use. While there will always be some kind of a risk for experimentation in adolescents, knowing how the child is feeling and handling major changes in their life can help the parents teach the teenagers how to cope with the pressure.

By having a strong bond with your child, along with providing strict guidelines and disciplinary actions, a parent can help prevent risk factors from affecting the child. Being open and honest with them about the short-term, and long-term consequences of drug use is a great preventative action to take with the child.  

There are other, earlier signs.  Aggressive behavior at a young age or distance and detachment from loved ones at a young age may foreshadow future drug use. It is important to tackle these signs as soon as they are noticed. Maintaining emotional health and understanding will significantly decrease the chances of future drug abuse.

Distributed by Client Initiatives

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