Early Signs of Drug Abuse in Children and Adolescents

Monday, March 3, 2008

Some signs of risk can be seen as early as infancy. Children’s personality traits or temperament can place them at increased risk for later drug abuse. Withdrawn and aggressive boys, for example, often exhibit problem behaviors in interactions with their families, peers, and others they encounter in social settings. If these behaviors continue, they will likely lead to other risks. These risks can include academic failure, early peer rejection, and later affiliation with deviant peers, often the most immediate risk for drug abuse in adolescence. Studies have shown that children with poor academic performance and inappropriate social behavior at ages 7 to 9 are more likely to be involved with substance abuse by age 14 or 15.

Other risk factors relate to the quality of children’s relationships in settings outside the family, such as in their schools, with their peers, teachers, and in the community. Difficulties in these settings can be crucial to a child’s emotional, cognitive, and social development. Some of these risk factors are:
• inappropriate classroom behavior, such as aggression and impulsivity;
• academic failure;
• poor social coping skills;
• association with peers with problem behaviors, including drug abuse; and
• misperceptions of the extent and acceptability of drug-abusing behaviors in school, peer, and community environments.
Association with drug-abusing peers is often the most immediate risk for exposing adolescents to drug abuse and delinquent behavior. Research has shown, however, that addressing such behavior in interventions can be challenging. For example, a recent study (Dishion et al. 2002) found that placing high-risk youth in a peer group intervention resulted in negative outcomes. Current research is exploring the role that adults and positive peers can play in helping to avoid such outcomes in future interventions.
Other factors—such as drug availability, drug trafficking patterns, and beliefs that drug abuse is generally tolerated—are also risks that can influence young people to start to abuse drugs.

Research has shown that the key risk periods for drug abuse occur during major transitions in children’s lives. These transitions include significant changes in physical development (for example, puberty) or social situations (such as moving or parents divorcing) when children experience heightened vulnerability for problem behaviors.

The first big transition for children is when they leave the security of the family and enter school. Later, when they advance from elementary school to middle or junior high school, they often experience new academic and social situations, such as learning to get along with a wider group of peers and having greater expectations for academic performance. It is at this stage—early adolescence—that children are likely to encounter drug abuse for the first time.

Source taken from excerpts of http://www.drugabuse.gov/pdf/prevention/RedBook.pdf


Francy said...

Nice Blog!
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