Risk and Protective Factors for Teenager Alcohol and Other Drugs Abuse
Studies indicate that children
most often begin to use alcohol and other drugs at about age 12 or 13, and many
researchers have observed young teens moving from the illicit use of legal substances
(such as tobacco, alcohol, and inhalants) to the use of illegal drugs (marijuana is
usually the first). The sequence from tobacco and alcohol use to marijuana use, and then,
as children get older, to other drugs, has been found in almost all long-term studies of
alcohol and other drug consumption. The order of alcohol and other drug consumption in
this progression is largely consistent with social attitudes and norms and the
availability of alcohol and other drugs. But it cannot be said that smoking and drinking
at young ages are the cause of later alcohol and other drug consumption.
Nor does this
sequencing imply that the progression is inevitable. It does say that for someone who ever
smoked or drank, the risk of moving on to marijuana is 65 times higher than that for a
person who never smoked or drank. The risk of moving on to cocaine is 104 times higher for
someone who smoked marijuana at least once in his or her lifetime than for a person who
For most children,
research has shown that the vulnerable periods are transitions, when they grow from one
developmental stage to another. But exposure to risks can start even before a child is
born; this is one reason that mothers are advised to abstain from alcohol
and other drugs during pregnancy. The first big transition for children is when they leave
the security of the family and enter school. When they advance from elementary school to
middle school or junior high, they often face social challenges, such as learning to get
along with a wider group of peers. It is at this stage, early adolescence, that children
are likely to encounter drug use for the first time.
Later on, when they
enter high school, young people face social, psychological, and educational challenges as
they prepare for the future, and these challenges can lead to use and abuse of alcohol,
tobacco, and other drugs.
When young adults go
on to college or get married or enter the workforce, they again face new risks from
alcohol and other drug abuse in their new adult environments.
Because risks appear
at every transition from infancy through young adulthood, prevention planners need to
develop programs that provide support at each developmental stage.
So what can you do to protect
your children? The study of factors and processes that increase the risk of using
alcohol and other drugs or protect against the use of alcohol and other drugs has
identified the following primary targets for prevention intervention: 1.) Family
relationships, 2.) Peer relationships, 3.) The school environment, and 4.) The community
environment. Each area of your childs life can be a setting for deterring the
initiation of alcohol and other drug consumption through increasing:
1.) Social and self-competency skills, 2.) Adoption of pro-social attitudes, and
3.) Behaviors, and awareness of the harmful health, social, and psychological consequences
of alcohol and other drug abuse.
Relationships. Prevention efforts in this realm should focus on teaching parents
skills for better family communication, discipline, firm and consistent rulemaking, and
other parenting skills. Research also has shown that parents need to take a more active
role in their children's lives, including talking with them about alcohol and other drugs,
monitoring their activities, getting to know their friends, and understanding their
problems and personal concerns.
Prevention efforts in this realm should focus on an individuals relationship to
peers by developing social-competency skills, which involve:
1.) Improved communications, 2.) Enhancement of positive peer relationships and
social behaviors, and 3.) Resistance skills to refuse drug offers.
Environment. Prevention efforts in this realm should focus on enhancing academic
performance and strengthening a childs bonding to school, by giving them a sense of
identity and achievement and reducing the likelihood of their dropping out of school. Most
curriculums include the support for positive peer relationships. Research demonstrates
that when children understand the negative effects of alcohol and other drugs and when
they perceive that their peers and familys social disapproval alcohol and
other drug consumption, they tend to avoid initiating alcohol and other drug use.
Environment. Prevention efforts in this realm should focus on programs at the civic,
religious, law enforcement, and governmental organizations to enhance anti-drug norms and
pro-social behavior through changes in policy or regulation, mass media efforts, and
community-wide awareness programs. Community-based programs might include new laws and
enforcement, advertising restrictions, and drug-free school zones-all designed to provide
a cleaner, safer, drug-free environment
about the negative effects of alcohol and other drugs, especially the most immediate
adverse effects in their lives, is an important element in any prevention program. In
addition, helping children become more successful in school behavior and performance helps
them form strong pro-social bonds with their peers, the school, and the community.
Risk factors for adolescent involvement with alcohol and other drugs.
1.) Research suggests that there are many risk factors for alcohol and other drug
each representing a challenge to the psychological and social development of an individual
and each having a differential impact depending on the phase of development.
2.) Chaotic home
environments, particularly in which parents abuse substances or suffer from mental
3.) Ineffective parenting, especially with children with difficult temperaments and
conduct disorders, lack of mutual attachments and nurturing
4.) Inappropriate, shy, and aggressive behavior in the classroom
5.) Failure in school performance
6.) Poor social coping skills
7.) Affiliations with deviant peers or peers around deviant behaviors
8.) Perceptions of approval of drug-using behaviors in the school, peer, and community
Protective factors for adolescent involvement with alcohol and other drugs.
1.) Strong bonds with the family
2.) Experience of parental monitoring with clear rules of conduct within the family unit
and involvement of parents in the lives of their children
3.) Success in school performance
4.) Strong bonds with pros-social institutions such as the family, school, and religious
5.) Adoption of conventional norms about alcohol and other drug use
Parenting skills for prevention of teenager alcohol and other drug consumption.
Build excellent relationship with your children
2.) Become active participants in your children's life
3.) Become involved with homework
4.) Encourage your children to seek your input on important decisions
5.) Eat dinners frequently as a family
6.) Integrate a spiritual practice into your childs life
7.) Create regular spiritual practices and rituals
8.) Praise and discipline your children as the opportunities present themselves
9.) Know what your children are doing after school
10.) Know where your children are on the weekends
chemical dependency as well as its toxic impact on family members. Raise your
children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs
free. Learn how
to in Dr. Frischs, Psy.D. Recovery book seriesFrom Insanity to Serenity.