Risk factors associated with drug use

The role of parents is very important for the prevention of drug use: due to our condition, we can contribute positively to avoiding, reducing, or delaying the drug use of our sons and daughters. However, given that drugs are a reality that has been, is, and will be present in society, the ultimate objective must be to encourage in them the development or acquisition of those personal resources that allow them to live in a world in which drugs exist without them posing a notable risk or generating significant problems in their lives.

Risk factors associated with drug use

Traditionally, it has been considered that informing about the consequences of drugs is the preventive strategy par excellence. It is possible to suppose that, in this way, the person becomes aware of the negative effects that the consumption of a substance will bring him and, consequently, he will avoid it. But we all know that reality is not so simple and that the fact of having enough information about the consequences of consumption does not cause a decrease in consumption. Read More

Therefore, more global,  multidimensional, and profound action is required.

During the last decades, a lot of research has been carried out on the causes that influence people to take drugs even when they know that they are dangerous. From such an analysis, a wide range of factors or conditions have been determined that contribute to the conduct of this behavior or that problems may arise from doing so. These are known as risk factors, which we can define as  “those personal, environmental or substance-related circumstances or characteristics that increase the probability that a person will get involved in drug use and this will cause problems”.

It is necessary to clarify that when we talk about factors we are always referring to probabilities. Thus, the existence of one or even several in a person does not mean that consumers will inevitably occur. Risk factors imply an increase in the probability of consumption or the risk of complications linked to it. Below we have prepared a table summary of the risk factors :

 Linked to the person :

  • Age
  • low assertiveness
  • Lack of conformity with social norms
  • High need for social approval
  • Difficulty managing free time
  • School or work failure
  • Lack of decision-making or problem-solving skills
  • Positive expectations regarding the consequences of consumption
  • Low self-esteem
  • heightened sensation seeking
  • Low tolerance for frustration
  • Rebellion
  • Lack of healthy leisure alternatives
  • Lack of social skills
  • Lack of knowledge about drugs
  • Favorable attitude toward drugs

Linked to the environment

Microsocial factors (from close social groups):

  • family atmosphere
    • low family cohesion
    • Inadequate affective climate
    • Family educational style (excess or lack of discipline)
    • Family tolerance to consumption (consumption in the family and/or permissiveness)
  • School environment
    • Lack of integration
    • Tolerance of drug use in the school environment
  • the peer group
    • Relationship with consumer friends
    • Group pressure toward consumption
    • Group norms, attitudes, and values ​​of the group
    • Drug use as an exclusive leisure alternative

Macrosocial factors (cultural, society in general) :

  • Availability and easy access to drugs
  • Social tolerance towards the consumption of certain substances (alcohol,…)
  • Lack of resources, dissemination, or facilities for the healthy use of leisure
  • Advertising of legal drugs, which engage with values ​​associated with the basic needs of the person
  • urban planning
  • Social climate (competitiveness, search for success…): Contradictory values, contrary to the health,… 

However, it is necessary to take into account all the multiple aspects that intervene in the behavior of our sons and daughters. It is not enough just to look at the risk factors, it is also necessary to take into account the tricks that play in your favor. In this sense, we are talking about protection factors, which are not always the reverse of risk factors but refer to their abilities, their potential, their emotional support network, their personality structure, or their communication resources, among others. many circumstances. From our condition as natural agents of prevention, fathers and mothers can favor many of these protective factors,  which will strengthen our sons and daughters to face problematic situations in relation to drug use.

Vulnerability to risks related to drug use will depend on the particular and dynamic balance that exists between the presence of risk and protection factors. Also, Read

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