What Challenges Are Boys Facing, and What Opportunities Exist To Address Those Challenges? Fact Sheet: Substance Abuse*. What Factors Increase or Decrease the Risk of Substance Abuse?

08/01/2008

While the proportion of boys using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs has risen and fallen over time, researchers have learned valuable lessons about risk factors — those traits and life experiences that can jeopardize a person’s healthy development — and protective factors — the characteristics and life experiences that can increase a person’s likelihood of positive outcomes.

Risk and protective factors for boys and girls are influenced by individual characteristics, families, peers, school environments, and communities.

Individual risk factors for substance abuse include:

  • Aggressive or antisocial behavior and conduct disorders, such as having difficulty following rules and behaving in socially unacceptable ways26,27
  • Resistance to authority or rebelliousness28
  • Doing poorly in school29,30

The following family, school, and community factors contribute to risks for substance abuse among boys:

  • Having parents who use drugs and have a positive attitude towards drug use31,32
  • Hanging out with friends who use alcohol or other drugs33,34
  • Having low educational aspirations or dropping out of school35,36
  • Easy availability of drugs in the community37
  • Poor enforcement of laws and regulations regarding drugs38,39,40

Protective factors that help boys avoid substance abuse:

  • Having high expectations and being optimistic about the future41,42
  • Consistent parental monitoring, discipline, and warmth43,44
  • Involvement with positive peer group activities and good relationships with peers45,46,47
  • Positive experiences and achievements at school48,49
  • Presence and involvement of caring and supportive adults50,51,52
  • Religious or spiritual connectedness53

(26)  Sullivan, T. N., Farrell, A. D., & Kliewer, W. (2006). Peer victimization in early adolescence: Association between physical and relational victimization and drug use, aggression, and delinquent behaviors among urban middle school students. Development and Psychopathology, 18, 119-137.

(27)  Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., & Miller, J. Y. (1992). Risk and protective factors for alcohol and other drug problems in adolescence and early adulthood: Implications for substance abuse prevention. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 64-105.

(28)  Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., & Miller, J. Y. (1992).

(29)  Williams, J. H., Davis, L. E., Johnson, S. D., Williams, T. R., Saunders, J. A., & Nebbitt, V. E. (2007). Substance use and academic performance among African American high school students. Social Work Research, 31, 151-161.

(30)  Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., & Miller, J. Y. (1992).

(31)  Ryan, L. G., Miller-Loessi, K., & Nieri, T. (2007). Relationships with adults as predictors of substance use, gang involvement, and threats to safety among disadvantaged urban high-school adolescents. Journal of Community Psychology, 35, 1053-1071.

(32)  Williams, J. H., Davis, L. E., Johnson, S. D., Williams, T. R., Saunders, J. A., & Nebbitt, V. E. (2007).

(33)  Williams, J. H., Van Dorn, R. A., Ayers, C. D., Bright, C. L., Abbott, R. D., & Hawkins, J. D. (2007). Understanding race and gender differences in delinquent acts and alcohol and marijuana use: A developmental analysis of initiation. Social Work Research, 31, 71-81.

(34)  Faden, V. B., & Goldman, M. (2004/2005). Environmental and contextual considerations. Alcohol Research & Health, 28, 155-162.

(35)  Crum, R. M., Storr, C. L., & Anthony, J. C. (2005). Are educational aspirations associated with the risk of alcohol use and alcohol use-related problems among adolescents? Substance Use and Misuse, 40, 151-169.

(36)  Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., & Miller, J. Y. (1992).

(37)  Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., & Miller, J. Y. (1992).

(38)  Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., & Miller, J. Y. (1992).

(39)  Van Horn, M. L., Hawkins, J. D., Arthur, M. W., & Catalano, R. F. (2007). Assessing community effects on adolescent substance use and delinquency. Journal of Community Psychology, 35, 925-946.

(40)  Faden, V. B., & Goldman, M. (2004/2005).

(41)  Crum, R. M., Storr, C. L., & Anthony, J. (2005).

(42)  Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., & Miller, J. Y. (1992).

(43)  Ryan, L. G., Miller-Loessi, L., & Nieri, T. (2007).

(44)  Faden, V. B., & Goldman, M. (2004/2005).

(45)  Faden, V. B., & Goldman, M. (2004/2005).

(46)  Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., & Miller, J. Y. (1992).

(47)  Sussman, S., Dent, C. W., & Stacy, A. W. (1990). Peer group association and adolescent tobacco use. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 99, 349-352.

(48)  Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., & Miller, J. Y. (1992).

(49)  Catalano, R. F., Haggerty, K. P., Oesterle, S., Fleming, C. B., & Hawkins, J. D. (2004). The importance of bonding to school for healthy development: Findings from the social development research group. Journal of School Health, 74, 252-261.

(50)  Ryan, L. G., Miller-Loessi, L., & Nieri, T. (2007).

(51)  Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., & Miller, J. Y. (1992).

(52)  Faden, V. B., & Goldman, M. (2004/2005).

(53)  Bartkowski, J. P., & Xu, X. (2007). Religiosity and teen drug use reconsidered; A social capital perspective. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 32 (Suppl 6), S182-S194.

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