Risk Factors that Can Increase Chances of Teen Substance Abuse

Teens are more likely to develop a drug abusing habit with higher exposure to risk factors. These risk factors may be understood as the negative characteristics of various domains like individual, parents, peer, school and community which are potential enough to initiate and increase the drug abusing behavior.

Teenagers are just transformed from children to adolescents. Therefore, they are not capable enough to cope up with these factors and become their victim. The below is the information of various risk factors faced by teenagers, their signs, development of drug abuse and dealing with these risk factors.

Early childhood risks: The risk factors associated with their childhood influence a teen greatly to take up drug abuse. Exposure to early childhood risks such as aggressive behavior, drug abusing family or peer group, drug availability in school, lack of parental supervision and poverty make a teen more prone to this unhealthy habit. The presence of these risk factors in a teenager’s life can be identified by few signs in his personal and social environment.

Signs of risk: Few signs found in an individual, his family and his social life help in predicting the risks of future drug abuse in that individual. These signs of risk vary depending up on the different stages in the life of an individual. The signs which point towards risk of drug abuse at later stages of life in an individual are:

  • Behavioral signs such as aggressive behavior, lack of self control or bad temperament in the stages of early childhood.
  • Family situations such as lack of affection from parents or caregivers, bad parenting, having a drug abusing parent or a caregiver or belief that drug abusing habit will be tolerated by parents.
  • Situations in social environment such as poor classroom behavior, lack of social skills, academic failure, association with drug abusing peer group or easy drug availability.

These signs when neglected develop in to a potential drug abusing habit in teens.

Early substance abuse include: In the early stages of developing drug abuse, teens generally begin with substances such as alcohol, inhalants, tobacco, marijuana and prescription drugs such as anti-anxiety medicines and sleeping pills. In the later adolescence, marijuana abuse may increase which may also advance to abusing of other drugs. Various studies have indicated that the involvement in drugs is higher in the stages of early childhood and early adolescence.

Protective factors can reduce the risk: In contrary to risk factors, protective factors are those which decrease the risk of drug abuse in teens. Acting as solutions for the problems posed by the risk factors they create a positive environment for teens, thus protecting them from the risk of drug abuse. The various protective factors are self-control, academic competence, anti-drug use policies, strong neighborhood attachment, strong bond between children and parents, parental monitoring and involvement in child’s life, establishing clear limits, consistent enforcement of discipline and strengthening learning and bonding at school by addressing poor concentration and aggressive behaviors of children.

Risks can be changed through intervention at right time: Various studies have found that children are more prone to risk of drug abuse during the transition periods like advancing from a baby life to school, then from elementary to middle school and then to high school level. Therefore, the prevention intervention programs need to be planned to strengthen the protective factors by providing skills and support to the youth at every stage of development, thus reducing the risk of drug abuse.

These risks can be prevented by family, school and community members interventions which focus on helping teens to develop the right, appropriate and positive behaviors. Coming up with strategies that encourage the implementation of protective factors will help in preventing the risk factors.

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