Published on October 2nd, 2013 | by Burlington Partnership


Risk Factors

Risk factors are things that make an individual’s drug use more likely. There are a number of things that can contribute to why someone ends up using or abusing drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Here are some examples broken out into different areas:

The Availability of Drugs
How easy are they to get?
How do people get access to them?

Community Laws and Norms Favorable Toward Drug Use/Abuse
Are there community sponsored events that encourage alcohol use/abuse?
Are the legal consequences for use of drugs enough to deter people from using?

Transitions and Mobility
Neighborhoods with high rates of residential turnover have been shown to have higher rates of juvenile crime and drug use.
Children who experience frequent residential moves and stressful life transitions are at higher risk for school failure, delinquency and drug use.

Low Neighborhood Attachment
Neighborhoods where youth report low levels of bonding to the neighborhood have higher rates of juvenile crime and drug use.

Community Disorganization
Neighborhoods with high population density and physical deterioration have increased adult and juvenile crime and drug use.

Extreme Economic Deprivation
Poverty = greater risk of delinquency, violence, drug use, school failure and teenage pregnancy.

Alienation and Rebelliousness
Young people who feel they are not a part of society, the community or a peer group are less bound by rules and are often more likely to use drugs.

Friends Who Engage in the Problem Behavior
Youth who have friends who abuse drugs and/or alcohol are more likely to use as well.

Favorable Attitudes Toward the Problem Behavior
Youth who express positive attitudes toward drug use, including lower perceived risks from using substances, are more likely to use tobacco, drugs or alcohol.

Early Initiation of the Problem Behavior
The younger someone “experiments” with substances, the likely they are to develop an addiction. Any tobacco, alcohol or other drug use earlier than 15 is a consistent predictor of later drug abuse/addiction.

Family History of the Problem Behavior
Children born or raised in a family with alcoholism have a greater risk of having an alcohol or drug problem themselves.

Family Management Problems
Such as: unclear expectations for behavior, poor monitoring of behavior, few and inconsistent rewards for positive behavior, and severe or inconsistent punishment for unwanted behavior increase children’s risk for drug use, violence and delinquency.

High Family Conflict
Children raised in families high in conflict, whether or not the child is directly involved in the conflict, are at greater risk for both delinquency and drug use.

Favorable Parental Attitudes and Involvement in the Problem Behavior
In families in which parents use illegal drugs, are heavy users of alcohol, engage in criminal behavior or are tolerant of children’s use, violence, or illegal behavior, children are more likely to use drugs, or engage in violent or delinquent behavior themselves.

Academic Failure Beginning in Late Elementary School

Lack of Commitment to School
Drug use is less common among students who expect to attend college than among those who do not. Liking school, amount of time spent on homework, and youth seeing schoolwork as relevant also have an effect on a youth’s chance of using/abusing drugs.

This information was gathered in part from the: The Communities That Care Youth Survey: MEASURING RISK AND PROTECTIVE FACTORS FOR SUBSTANCE USE, DELINQUENCY, AND OTHER ADOLESCENT PROBLEM BEHAVIORS Writers/Evaluators: MICHAEL W. ARTHUR, J. DAVID HAWKINS  University of Washington JOHN A. POLLARD RICHARD F. CATALANO Social Development Group, University of Washington A. J. BAGLIONI JR. The Epsilon Group EVALUATION REVIEW, Vol. 26 No. 6, December 2002 575-601

About the Author

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑