When we think about our health and wellbeing, we know that there are certain things that can impact us either positively or negatively. This is true for all aspects of life. Science has identified that a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle will impact you negatively and eating healthy and exercising regularly will promote good health. Science has also identified factors that can help protect youth, or put them at risk for substance misuse and abuse.

Research has identified factors that are known to predict certain behaviors in our youth. Risk factors are conditions that increase the likelihood of a young person becoming involved in substance misuse or abuse, delinquent behavior, truancy, and other anti-social behaviors. Protective factors are positive assets that reduce the impact of risk factors or change the way a youth responds to risks. These factors are characteristics of community, neighborhood, school, family, peers, and each individual person. While we can’t always eliminate risk from our but by increasing the protective factors around our youth we build walls to shield them from the negative effects of risk.

Risk Factors:

  • Availability of Alcohol Tobacco and other drugs
  • Availability of weapons
  • Community laws and attitudes favorable to drug use, weapons, and crime
  • Lack of community involvement and community disorganization
  • Exposure to violence
  • Family conflict
  • Poor family management
  • Parental attitudes favorable to substance use and problem behaviors
  • Low commitment to school
  • Poor school performance
  • Rebelliousness
  • Low perceived risk of substance abuse
  • Gang involvement
  • Poor peer relations
  • Peer substance abuse
  • Mental health concerns

Protective Factors:

  • Healthy Beliefs – integrity, honesty, responsibility, restraint, religiosity
  • Clear Standards – Defined boundaries, positive adult and peer role models, high expectations
  • Attachment and Commitment – family support, positive communication, other positive adult relationships, neighborhood commitment, religious community, parental and youth school engagement
  • Skills – decision making, coping, resistance, conflict resolution, and cultural competence
  • Opportunities – availability of family friendly activities, service to others, creative activities, positive youth programs, time at home
  • Recognition – community values youth, caring school environment
  • Individual Characteristics – (personal power, good self-esteem, sense of purpose, positive view of the future
Your present situation is not your final destination