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2001 National Household  Survey on Drug Abuse

6. Prevention-Related Measures

The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) includes an extensive set of risk and protective factors concerned with substance abuse prevention issues among youths aged 12 to 17. Risk factors include those individual characteristics or social environments associated with an increased likelihood of substance use, while protective factors are related to a decreased likelihood of substance use or to nonuse. These factors derive from circumstances, influences, and perceptions at many levels, such as the individual, peer, family, school, and community levels (Hawkins, Catalano, & Miller, 1992). A number of risk and protective factors have been shown to be correlated with youth use of cigarettes, alcohol, and other illicit drugs. One goal of youth prevention programs has been to identify those factors, and, subsequently, design programs that might affect them. Because individual attitudes and perceptions of substance use typically precede substance use, tracking risk and protective factors over time can provide an advance alert of increases and decreases in actual illicit drug, alcohol, and tobacco use.

A report based on the 1997 NHSDA data presented initial findings on a number of risk and protective factors for youth substance abuse (Lane, Gerstein, Huang, & Wright, 2001). A more comprehensive list of possible risk and protective factors was included in the 1999 NHSDA, and a report based on those data, including analyses that address the issue of the relative change in these factors over time and their impact on substance use, is in preparation (Wright & Pemberton, in press). The section below presents results from the 1999, 2000, and 2001 NHSDAs using data from all individuals aged 12 or older on perceptions of risk and availability of cigarettes, alcohol, and illicit drugs, as well as data from youths aged 12 to 17 on parental disapproval of youth substance use, participation in delinquent activities, and youth exposure to substance abuse prevention messages and programs. Following this, trends in substance use by risk and protective factors are presented.


Perceptions of Risk




Parental Disapproval


Delinquent Behaviors among Youths Aged 12 to 17


Youth Exposure to Prevention Messages and Programs



Trends in Substance Use, by Risk and Protective Factors


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This page was last updated on June 16, 2008.