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DDr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at drfrisch@aliveandwellnews.com  or at
(847) 604-3290.

Recover from 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. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.

Facts About…
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 never did.

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 child’s 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.

Family 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.

Peer Relationships. Prevention efforts in this realm should focus on an individual’s 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.

The School Environment. Prevention efforts in this realm should focus on enhancing academic performance and strengthening a child’s 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 family’s social disapproval alcohol and other drug consumption, they tend to avoid initiating alcohol and other drug use.

The Community 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

Educating children 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.

Pathfinder’s Checklist
Risk factors for adolescent involvement with alcohol and other drugs.

1.) Research suggests that there are many risk factors for alcohol and other drug abuse—
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 illnesses
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 environments

Pathfinder’s Checklist
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 organizations
5.) Adoption of conventional norms about alcohol and other drug use

Pathfinder’s Checklist
Parenting skills for prevention of teenager alcohol and other drug consumption.

1.) 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 child’s 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



Recover from 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. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series—From Insanity to Serenity.

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