Substance abuse tears families and communities apart. It ruins lives-and sometimes takes them. Recovering from drug and alcohol abuse is infinitely more difficult than avoiding it in the first place. That’s why prevention is so important. Parents, school-based programs, and substance abuse coalitions can all play a vital role.
Education and awareness are cornerstones of prevention. But it’s equally important to identify and address potential risk factors for substance abuse, particularly in young people’s lives. A chaotic home life, ineffective parenting, poor academic performance, mental illness, and parents or friends who abuse substances can all put children and adolescents at risk.
Reducing those risk factors and putting protective factors in their place can go a long way toward minimizing the chances that a child or teen will end up abusing alcohol or drugs. Protective factors include:
- Strong family bonds
- Clear parental expectations
- Healthy connections with school, church and community
- Reinforcement of healthy messages at home and elsewhere