Skip Navigation

Why some young people take drugs and others don’t

Why some young people take drugs and others don’tWhy some young people take drugs and others don’t

In order to deal with drug related issues we need to understand the reasons why some young people use drugs and others don’t. The factors which make some people more likely to use drugs are called ‘risk factors’. The factors which seem to protect others from the risk of drug use are called ’resilience factors’. No one can predict who will go on to use drugs. What we can do is look at the factors below – young people who have many risk factors and few resilience factors are more likely to use drugs.




Risk factors


Resilience factors

Environmental context


Drugs are easy to get
Friends use drugs
Friends in trouble with the law


Positive adult role models
Positive friends
Well off

Family factors


Parents use drugs or break law
Parents don’t monitor activities
Rejected by parents
Parents don’t discipline
Family conflict or divorce
Addiction in family
Parents don’t expect much
Family affected by unemployment and other issues


No experience of loss or separation as a child
Strong family unit
Good relationship with parents
Parents supervise and monitor activities

Own lives


Starts smoking, drinking at early age
Sexually active at early age
Starts drug use at early age
Keep taking more drugs
Feels positive about effects of drugs
History of behaviour problems


Starts smoking, drinking at later age
Feels negative about effects of drugs
Religious values



Feels stressed
Impulsive, hyperactive
Anti-social personality
Looks for a ‘buzz’
Mental health problems


High self-esteem
Thinks before acting
Laid back



Poor school performance
Don’t expect to do well at school
Don’t care about school
Absence, truancy and drop-out
Little formal support


Gets on well with teachers
Wants to do well at school
Parents expect a lot
Do well at school
Good formal support in education

Share this:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • LinkedIn
  • E-mail
Our online 'Live Help' chat service offers you a person to talk to.
This is a free, secure and confidential online chat service - your identity is not made known to the staff member.

Click the button below to launch the chat service.
Live Helper
Poll Poll

Should drugs be decriminalised in Ireland?