Decades of research have helped to identify several patterns of risk and protective factors contributing to alcohol and drug use in adolescence and in later life.   Limiting risk factors while strengthening and increasing the availability of protective resources will help to reduce substance abuse and create healthier individuals and communities.

Risk factors fall into 5 major categories: Individual, Peer, Family, School and Community.

Risk and protective factors can affect children at different stages of their lives. At each stage, risks occur that can be changed through prevention or intervention.

Research has shown that the key risk periods for drug abuse are during major transitions in children’s lives. Such as when they advance from elementary school to middle school and they experience new academic and social situations. It is at this stage—early adolescence—that children are likely to encounter drugs for the first time.

When they enter high school, adolescents face additional social, emotional, and educational challenges. At the same time, they may be exposed to greater availability of drugs, drug abusers, and social activities involving drugs. These challenges can increase the risk that they will abuse alcohol, tobacco, and other substances.

When young adults leave home for college or work and are on their own for the first time, their risk for drug and alcohol abuse is very high.

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When it comes to preventing substance abuse among youth, parents are the first line of defense.

Parents have more influence over their child than friends, music, TV, the Internet and celebrities.

Kids who learn about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use than those who do not.

Help your teen stay safe and make healthy choices by:

Talking and listening regularly
Being directly involved in your child’s everyday world
Making it clear that you do not want him or her drinking or using drugs
Provide safe social venues
Eat dinner with your family
Be informed
Set limits

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Youth Service Specialist, Hector Garcia, mentors high school youth through providing tools to help students learn strategies to avoid drug and alcohol use as well as obtain academic success.

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