Young people consume drugs for numerous reasons that have to do with how they feel about themselves, how they get along with others, and how they live.
No one feature ascertains who will use drugs and who will not, but there are some predictors and key risk factors:
- Low grades or poor school performance;
- Aggressive, defiant behaviour;
- unwarranted influence by peers;
- Lack of parental support and guidance; a disorganized home life
- Behaviour problems at an early age.
- Parental drug use
- Low socio-economic status
- Poor social skills
It is essential to distinguish between experimental and problem drug use. Only a very small proportion of young people who experiment go on to develop problem drug use.
Researchers and practitioners allot a crucial role to the family in the development or prevention of drug-related behaviours. The family is seen to exercise influence in a variety of ways:
earby family relationships
Parents have a very dominant influence as role models for their children, who tend to follow what their parents do rather than what they say. The closeness of the parent-child bond is found to protect against problem drug use by encouraging mutual parent-child trust, effective communication, positive self-perception and choice of friends. Poor communication, poorly defined or stated expectations of behaviour and inconsistent or harsh discipline can all predict substance misuse.
Parenting skills tend to be passed on down the generations. Parents who lack effective management skills are less well equipped to deal with family crises, to reward or punish appropriately, to develop positive social behaviours in their children or to protect them from negative influences.
Parents knowing where their children are and what they are doing can hindrance or prevent the onset of drug use. The influence of this supervision can be direct in keeping children away from drugs, or indirect by reducing contact with drug-using peers.