Risk factors are conditions or behaviors which increase the likelihood that a problem will develop. There are known factors which make it more probable that a teenager will abuse things like drugs or alcohol. Some of the risk factors can be avoided simply by being aware and altering some conditions.
8 Leading Risk Factors For Teen Substance Abuse
1.) Lack of supervision – Teens with no supervision are more likely to get into trouble. When young people are left on their own or allowed to go anywhere and do anything without checking in with mom and dad, this is a recipe for danger. It is also one risk factor that is easy to eliminate. If parents will find out where their teen is going, whom they will be with, and, when possible, get a phone number for the place of destination, this risk factor is lowered. Having kids speak for a few moments with mom and dad when they come in for the night is another way to improve supervision.
2.) Making it too easy – Homes where things like cigarettes, alcohol and prescription drugs are easily accessible are themselves a risk factor. Teenagers will get into the liquor cabinet if it isn’t locked up. They will raid the family medicine cabinet if too many unused prescription drugs are lying around. Parents should put these substances away and keep an eye on the supply to ensure that they are not being used by anyone else. Parents should definitely not serve alcohol to their children and their children’s friends.
3.) Being out of touch – Staying informed about a teen’s private life can be tough. They don’t tend to be as open as younger children. Still, parents need to keep talking to their kids. Parents can do their best to know what is going on in their teen’s life and who is in their teen’s life. Parents need to talk with their kids about substance abuse. It will help to have some hard data on hand and parents can look at websites with their teen if necessary. Talking with your teen lets them know you do care.
4.) School as the supply house – Schools bring together large numbers of students from all kinds of homes and backgrounds. Some of those kids bring drugs to school and sell them. Schools without a zero tolerance policy are a risk factor. Parents can get involved in helping make their school a zero tolerance environment.
5.) Family history – There is nothing to be done about family history. However, it is important to be aware that having a family history of substance abuse equals a risk factor for the teen. Just remember that risk factors are not the same thing as predestination.
6.) Being adolescent – Unfortunately, just being a teenager is a risk factor. Teens are under constant stress. Their bodies are changing, they are in the midst of an identity crisis, and they are bombarded with lots of first time exposures and experiences. In addition, the teen lives with a frightening sense of being impervious to danger. Lastly, teens are desperate to break out from under the family umbrella and establish themselves as an individual and they sometimes decide to use substances to express that wish.
7.) Feeling immune – Another risk factor for teen substance abuse is the assumption that some kids are immune. It could never happen to your child. If that attitude is present – beware. Substance abuse is not something confined to race, gender, socioeconomic or intellectual constraints of any kind.
8.) Social/academic struggles – Teens who are struggling socially or with their schoolwork face an increased risk of substance abuse. Anything which makes young people feel that they are not fitting in or worry that they just won’t make it on their own can lead them to abuse substances as a way of coping with their fear and anxiety.