Risk Factors for Recent Increased Drug Use in Adolescents

I went through the process of obtaining data from six professional journal articles. I have concluded that there are two dominant variables, family and peer relationships, along with multiple other variables; which may heighten the risk for drug use in adolescents between the ages of fourteen and seventeen over the past ten years. The other supporting variables are age, gender, ethnicity and victimization. But the two most important variables in determining drug use in teens are their peer and family relationships. Introduction:

Drug use has become more popular among adolescents between the ages of fourteen to seventeen years of age over the past ten years. "A National Institute Drug Abuse review of the last ten years of research on drug abuse shows that adolescent drug abuse rose sharply between 1992 and 1996" (Alcoholism Report 1998). If we can target the causes to this on going dilemma we may begin to take some precautions and decrease the risky behaviors of today's and future teens. A user is defined as someone who has used illegal drugs or alcohol more than five times.

In recent years teen drug use has increased due to multiple variables. Methodology: I am a student at Fairport Senior High School writing a thesis paper for a SUPA Sociology class. I have used secondary analysis and synthesis to support a thesis. The secondary analysis was of nine professional journal articles written about increased drug use factors. I read, highlighted and annotated each article and pulled information from each to support my thesis. Environmental Variables: Peer Influence

If problems in formation of a personal identity persist, drug use may become their escape. Adolescence is a time when the majority of teens will experience their first exposure to drugs and/ or alcohol, if one ever makes the choice to experiment with drugs (Zoccolillo 1999). A person's teen years are also a time for identity development. Their social environment is closely linked to possible drug addiction (Leshner 1999). Peers are a teen's life, the bonds made between one another are very strong, and drug use may be another let out for a poor ability to bond with others.

"Peer influences have been found to be among the strongest predictors of drug use during adolescence, and they represent a key contrast in numerous theories of the etiology and maintenance of adolescents' drug use. It has been suggested that peer variables not only dominate the prediction of drug use but mediate the effects of other variables" (Farrell, White 1998). The group of peers one does associate with will have a great impact on the individual based on the group's behavior and drug norms.

Negative peer bonding will increase the risk for teen drug use. Negative peer bonding is when an individual feels they aren't accepted, or have difficulty fitting in with their peers. The risk for drug use is only present if the bonds between the individual and the group, or family is weak. If a teen's family relationship is not strong, he may turn to their peers for support. If the friends that he is turning to are users, they will influence the individual to begin to use because he is in an environment where using is accepted.

Also, adolescents will be more adept to use because he can turn to his peers to side with him and make him feel more confident about himself. This process of turning to your peers for acceptance and reassurance is not only increasing risks for drug use, but it is also deteriorating family bonds, which is another variable for increased substance use. If the peer group, in which an individual associates with, has behavioral patterns of frequent drug use that person may be in a high-risk situation for possible drug use himself. Frequent drug use is present in many youth's everyday activities.

"More than 70% reported going to school high on drugs, and the majority reported playing sports while high and using drugs in the morning" (Zoccolillo 1999). This percentage is of high school students with a mean age of 15. 7 years. It has been found that a high number of students involve drugs in two or more of their daily routines such as school, sports, and other recreational activities. Peers assist in identity formation of teens. Their influence is one of the strongest to predict whether or not an individual will or will not use drugs.

Peers are the first to introduce drugs into one's life and support the use. If the identity of an adolescent has been accepted by a group of teens that are involved in drug use, then the possibilities are much greater for the individual to begin, or continue using because of the pressure put on them by their peers (Farrell 1998). The more someone associates with a specific group of individuals who use, is offered drugs, and is accepted by this group for identity support the more likely it is that they will become a user.