Substance use disorder resides in every part of the nation. There is no limit to who can be affected by drug abuse. Many groups are very at risk. Adolescent age groups can continuously be at risk depending on several factors. It’s up to the general public to stay informed.  Being informed allows us to fight this epidemic and prevent substance use disorder in adolescents. 

How are adolescents affected? 

The age range of adolescents can be interpreted in many ways, but the World Health Organization advises that adolescents are considered to be 10 to 19 years old. The CDC has monitored these age groups and has discovered that over 14% of high school students have used illicit or injections drugs. Another 14% of high school students reported non-prescription use of opioids. 

There are many different ways adolescents prove to be at risk. Some of the categories below lists out a few of the reasons that can affect youth’s exposure to drugs. 


Everyone has some form of parental guidance or family. It does not always have to be a biological connection, and it may extend to more of an emotional connection. Family affects a large portion of children’s behavior. 

Open Communication

Parents who allow for a more open dialogue and have constant communication, and positive attitudes can help children avoid substance use disorder.  

For other child-rearing techniques, inadequate parental monitoring can actually predispose a child to fall into substance use disorder. Being aware of what your child is doing and talking to them about what they are experiencing in school and on the streets will leave them more aware of making informed decisions. 

The more obvious factor that parents may not expect is existing substance abuse. Children learn from their parents. If they have parents who regularly use and abuse drugs, then they may also copy this same action. It is crucial to be a good role model for adolescents as they are at an age where they want to explore and be more like the adults in their life. 


There is another factor that also may play out, and that is family rejection of sexual orientation or gender identity Identifying topics or ordeals that a child or teen might be going through and helping them through it helps give them support. A lot of children who lack support or guiding figures in their life are more prone to falling into drugs or hanging out with others who may use and abuse substances. Accepting children no matter what their situation only helps strengthen them in the long run for the war against substance abuse. 


Just like how a family becomes a constant thing in a child’s life, so does their friends. These could be friends that are from school around the block or even pen pals. However, peers play an important factor in how an adolescent sees drugs. 

Hanging out with people who partake in drug culture 

This could start innocently enough with friends who joke about doing drugs and can spiral into something bigger. Adolescents who hang out with people partaking in substance abuse have the chance to be peer pressured into doing drugs or other illegal substances. This can be due to wanting to look look cool and fit in. Controlling adolescents friends may prove to be a futile effort. Still, if you can educate your young teen to know to avoid drug abuse, then they can hopefully healthy and life-saving decisions despite the peer pressure. 


For most of the year, a good portion of adolescents are spending their time at school. They are out of parents’ control and in the hands of their teachers and friends. Many schools have been trying to have educational programs about drug abuse. It is essential to know what they go over these lessons so parents and guardians can reemphasize at home how important they are. 

Lack of school connection

Most children want to rush home as soon as school is over. It’s an adolescent stereotype that school is not always a fun place to be. However, children must find something other than everyday classes to tie them to school as well. This can be in the form of after school clubs or sports. The main thing is to have an outlet or activity that is run by teachers you can trust. The alternative being if a child has nothing to do after school, they may find themselves hanging out with other adolescents who lack connection with the school. These young teens may have a predisposition to substance abuse. 

Bad Grades

If there is a lack of school connection and commitment it may also lead to bad grades. Poor academic success may also come from learning difficulties or more significant problems at home. Academic achievement allows a student to feel confident. When adolescents have consistently bad grades, they may get teased by their peers and become more prone to falling into substance abuse disorder. Poor grades can hurt self-esteem and make children a prime subject to peer pressure. It is something to take into account when you notice your child is having difficulty performing well at school that it can lead to other problems. 

How do we help prevent substance use disorder in adolescents? 

The above factors are just a few of the things that can predispose adolescents into falling into substance abuse. The Surgeon General has advised that other factors can lead to substance abuse. 

However, now that we know what kind of situations can affect adolescents, how do we protect them? The first step is to have open communication. Communication about any case can build trust and allow your child to come to you know matter the situation; you do not want them to hide more significant problems from you. Explain what substance abuse is and how to identify if their friends could be doing drugs for recreation. Giving children the tools to identify and avoid substance abuse will help them learn how to make the right choices. 

If your child or adolescent already has experienced substance abuse or has become addicted, it is not too late to get them help. The first thing to do in this situation is to find a substance abuse recovery center that can create a plan to get them on the road to recovery. Even if you have questioned, it cannot hurt to ask for help from professionals trained to deal with substance abuse disorders. Communication is critical when trying to prevent substance use disorder in adolescents.