How High is Your Child’s Risk Factor for Using Drugs?
Check Out This List

The World Health Organization recently released a comprehensive report on marijuana use around the world, including in that report a list of factors that tend to increase the risk of drug use in youth. Of course, even having multiple risk factors is no guarantee that a person will ever use drugs. But if a parent notes the existence of these risk factors, it might be smart to pay very close attention to the possibility of drug use by his or her children and work to directly counteract these risks.

Joint being lit

These are the social factors that tend to increase drug use among youth:

  • High levels of drug availability
  • Use of tobacco and alcohol at an early age
  • The person’s social environment is tolerant of alcohol and drug use
  • A socially disadvantaged background also increases risk

Family factors influencing drug use during adolescence:

  • Poor quality of parent-child interaction
  • Poor parent-child relationships
  • Parental conflict
  • Parental and sibling drug use

Here are some individual factors associated with higher risk of drug use:

  • Being male
  • Being drawn to novelty or sensation
  • Early oppositional behavior in school, at home or among friends
  • Poor school performance
  • Low commitment to education goals
  • Dropping out of school early
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Associating with antisocial and drug-using peers

Many parents tend to have an intuition about these risk factors and try to motivate their children to better achievement in school and a better choice of friends. Now the World Health Organization validates what parents have long known in their hearts.

Protective Factors

On the flip side of the coin, what factors tend to protect youth from using drugs? Look for these:

  • Strong parental support
  • Good parental management of youth including monitoring, discipline, rewards and reinforcement of good behavior
  • Higher levels of scholastic achievement
  • Involvement in religion and church activities is often associated with lower use of marijuana and higher rates of abstinence

When Drug Use Becomes Addiction

When the following factors are present, a drug-using individual is more likely to progress to addiction.

  • Intensive, heavy marijuana use
  • Continuous, chronic marijuana use
  • Low self-esteem
  • Low self-control
  • Poor coping skills
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Financial difficulties

Of course, these risk factors don’t ONLY apply to youth. Any adult with these risk factors could also feel that adding some alcohol or drugs to their lives could smooth off the rough edges. A relationship breakup, career disappointment or setback, educational failure or lack of life skills can lead an adult to start relying on pills, alcohol or illicit drugs to make life seem more tolerable.

Confident man

And any time you rely on chemicals to make life better, you only succeed in dulling your perceptions and blunting your abilities to make your life ACTUALLY better.

At Narconon drug rehabilitation centers around the world, our emphasis is on brightening a person’s awareness and perceptions and boosting their life skills. A sober life must look better and brighter to an individual than using drugs ever did for it to be easy to throw drugs out of one’s life for good. When someone you care about needs help leaving drugs behind in favor of a brighter outlook and strong sober living skills, call us. We can help. We have been helping for more than 50 years.

Read the World Health Organization report here.


Karen Hadley

For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.