The Key to Preventing Addiction in Adults? Start When They’re Young.

The chemistry of addiction is simple. The causes are myriad, and complex. But there is one predictor of addiction that stands above all others: early substance use as youth. In order to prevent the devastating consequences of addiction in adults, it is imperative to understand the risk factors that contribute to drug and alcohol use in children, and find ways to mitigate those risks.

Know What to Look For, and How to Prevent Youth Substance Use

The Hazeldon Betty Ford Foundation has just published a concise and very readable white paper entitled Factors Impacting Early Alcohol and Drug Use Among Youths. Rates of adolescent substance use suggest that prevention and intervention efforts specifically geared toward young people are critical. While specific trends in substance use vary a great deal among adolescents over time, a number of clinical and school-based evidence-based treatment and prevention efforts have been shown to be effective in reducing substance use among adolescents, regardless of the substance being used or whether a substance use disorder is present. Parents and role models who consistently establish healthy social norms regarding alcohol and drug use throughout childhood and adolescence set the strongest foundation for preventing unhealthy substance use behaviors later in life.