There are a number of risk factors that can cause someone to start using drugs. Sometimes it is one risk factor, other times it is a combination of risk factors. Learning what risk factors are involved could be the key in preventing drug use. Many think that marijuana is the gateway drug, which means it forms a path toward someone using harder drugs. I have seen it happen personally, so I believe marijuana definitely becomes a gateway drug for some people. However, I have seen others use the drug and never go beyond using marijuana.
Besides marijuana use, there are other risk factors that can lead to drug use. The first risk factor is culture and society. Laws favorable to drug use can make it more acceptable to use drugs. For example, the push to legalize drugs would create social norms and mores that are favorable to drug use, but would deteriorate the morals and values system. It would increase the availability of drugs in our society, producing extreme economic deprivations mainly in the urban core but all over. And it would cause a total disintegration within the inner city and other neighborhoods and communities. This risk factor is the highest risk factor that could lead to a definite increase in drug use overall because drug use would be an acceptable norm.
The next risk factor for drug use is interpersonal factors. This includes family, friends, school, and neighborhoods that influence drug use. Risk factors are very high when family members and friends use drugs. A person would be lead into believing that drug use is the norm and acceptable. In fact, in many cases a young person will engage in drug use to feel accepted by peers. Parents and other family members that use or encourage drug use are often creating a legacy of drug use within a family. Family conflict and disruption, like divorce or abuse, are risk factors that lead to drug use. The next risk factor for drug use is psychobehavioral. This means there is a correlation between psychological and behavioral factors. For example, this risk factor can lead to drug use when a child who has lacked discipline or who has been abused starts demonstrating behavioral problems and becoming rebellious. They begin to have problems in school, not showing interest, becoming withdrawn, failing academically, and eventually dropping out of school. Drug use may occur when they become withdrawn from family, school and friends or start hanging out with the wrong crowd.
The last risk factor for drug use is biogenetic. This risk factor can lead to drug use based on the fact that there is an inherited propensity toward drug use. These people have a psychophysiological vulnerability to drug usage. Babies born to mothers who abuse drugs are susceptible to drug use because they have basically been fed the drug the entire time in the womb. Not only does drug use by the mother result in physical deformities, but it also results in mental and emotional problems in the child, which can lead to drug use. Another example of this risk factor leading to drug use is how alcoholism travels in a family from one generation to the next. The risk factor in using drugs becomes a family tradition. There is a genetic tendency in family members, which results in them having an increased risk toward drug use.