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Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says

4: Risk factors

List of Risk Factors

Prevention research reveals there are many risk factors for drug abuse, each representing a challenge to the psychological and social development of the individual and each having a different impact depending on the phase of a young person's development. For this reason, those factors that affect early development in the family are probably the most crucial such as:

  • ineffective parenting, especially with children with difficult temperaments and conduct disorders;
  • chaotic home environments, particularly in which parents abuse substances or suffer from mental illnesses, and
  • lack of mutual attachments and nurturing.

Other risk factors relate to children interacting with other socialization agents outside of the family, specifically the school, peers, and the community. Some of these factors include:

  • inappropriate behavior in the classroom,
  • failure in school performance,
  • poor social coping skills,
  • affiliations with deviant peers, and
  • perceptions of approval of drug-using behaviors in the school, peer, and community environments.

This page was last updated January 2007

NIDA Notes: The Latest in Drug Abuse Research

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