Worrying that a young person you care about will develop a drug or alcohol problem can create anxiety and fear and can affect how you care and support a young person.

Understanding a little bit about the factors that contribute to drug and alcohol problems develop can be helpful.

Many young people experiment with alcohol and other drugs and for a small group, their substance eventually becomes problematic.

But unlike some issues or problems, drug problems aren’t single disorders only related to the particular young person involved. Instead, a young person’s drug and alcohol using behaviour is influenced by factors that occur at an individual level, within peer groups, at a school and family level and even at a larger community level

Many young people experiment with alcohol and other drugs and for a small group, it eventually becomes problematic.

A fair bit of research over many years suggests there are particular factors that may contribute to the risk of a young person developing drug or alcohol problems and there are other factors that seem to protect against problems occurring and even counteract risk factors.

Check out these examples of some of the risk and protective factors.

Risk factors don’t “cause” drug problems and similarly protective factors don’t guarantee there will not be a problem but when risk factors outweigh protective factors a young person is more vulnerable to developing problems.

Interested in knowing more about why a young person might use drugs?