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Identifying Risk Factors and Protective Factors in Substance Abuse

During substance abuse research, prediction, and prevention, risk and protective factors need to be identified. There are some things that scientists and doctors consider predictive of drug abuse.

If these things are identified and corrected, particularly at an early age drug prevention treatment can begin then, instead of when there already is a problem with it. To do this it is important to know what a risk factor is, what a preventive factor is, and how they work both before and after drug use.

What is a Risk Factor?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a risk factor is something that makes a person more likely to use drugs. Risk factors can show up as early as infancy or happen in very late life. There are many risk factors that a person might experience over their lifetime. They are more likely to show up in childhood or adolescence. Some of the risk factors are:

Factors in Substance Abuse

Isolation and loneliness often lead to substance abuse.

  • stressors
  • poor performance at work or school
  • isolation
  • lack of companionship or friendship
  • gender or gender identity
  • mental health issues
  • loneliness
  • lack of family
  • family history

There are many more risk factors. This is just a sample. If you or your child has any of these, plus the signs of drug addiction, it is important to seek help now. You can do this by calling 800-683-3270.

What is a Protective Factor?

Protective factors are the pros of the substance abuse world. They are identified as protective factors because they protect someone from drug abuse and addiction. They are the things that are positive in a person’s life or positive things that prevent a person from using drugs. A person has many things that can be positive influences. According to the Massachusetts Health and Human Services Department, a few of these are:

  • a good job
  • good academic performance
  • having friends
  • being well liked at work or school
  • no family history of substance abuse
  • a tight knit family
  • a good support structure
  • good finances

There are many more protective factors. This is just a sample.

How Should Substance Abuse Prevention Work According to the NIDA?

Why Identify Risk Factors and Protective Factors?

It is a good idea to identify risk factors and protective factors to try and intervene. The point is to develop preventative measures before someone becomes a drug user. It also helps scientists study the behavior of addicts and those who might become addicts.

It also helps to identify treatment goals for substance abuse treatment. Knowing someone’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to addiction is extremely important when developing a treatment plan. During treatment you can focus on correcting your weaknesses and celebrating your strengths, if you’ve already identified them.

Many 12 step programs, group counseling, and individual counseling focus on these strengths and weaknesses to improve your chances of recovery. For more information on using strengths and weaknesses in recovery or to find a treatment center that uses them, call 800-683-3270.

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