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Risk Factors for Substance Abuse in Adolescents

Learn about risk factors for substance abuse in adolescents from Dr. Kimberly Williams in this Howcast video.


Substance abuse in adolescents and teenagers is occurring at a higher rate than ever before. Substance abuse, really now, is occurring in equal rates among girls and boys. What we are finding is that there's a common notion that kids are going to experiment. However, this is not necessarily the case. What we're finding is that children who are using substances, be it nicotine, marijuana, or other elicit drugs, are self-medicating. Self-medicating, signs of, unhappiness, mood issues, depression, anxiety, ADHD. When a child has these undiagnosed disorders that they are medicating with substances, this leads to other crucial high risk behaviors that are dangerous and can be life-threatening.

Signs to look for if you think your child is using substances are, a decline in grades, maybe a change in friendships and peer groups, keeping late hours, secrecy. If you suspect this is happening, don't be afraid or in denial. Sit down and talk with your child and try to be open, honest and remain calm and non-judgmental and see if you can gain some information about how your child might be spending their time. If this is the case, don't hesitate to contact a clinical professional who can offer you some guidance about how to get help for your child in your family. While substance abuse is clearly a critical issue that goes beyond gender, ethnicity, and social economic status, it is something that we all need to consider. These are just some important key points regarding substance abuse and your teenager.

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