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What are the factors that influence kids to try drugs or avoid them?

from The Complete Guide to Family Health, Nutrition & Fitness

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1. Overview

2. Why Kids Use Drugs

3. Stages and Warning Signs of Substance Abuse

4. Reducing the Risk for Substance Abuse

5. What if a Drug Problem Has Already Developed?

6. Next Steps / Related Information

Several factors can exert a significant influence on who will and who won't try drugs:

Attractiveness of drugs. Smoking and drinking are widely promoted as habits enjoyed by sophisticated, fun-loving, attractive and sexy people — what most adolescents long to become. Illegal drugs are "advertised" by those using them in an adolescent's peer group.

The high induced by drugs. If drug use wasn't pleasurable, it would be relatively easy to keep kids and harmful substances separated. But the reality is that many kids enjoy the way they feel on drugs — at least for a while.

Attitudes of parents toward tobacco, alcohol and other substances. Children learn what they live. Smoking, drinking and other drug-related behaviors among parents will usually be duplicated in their children.

Availability of drugs. Finding drugs is not difficult for children and adolescents in most communities, but tougher local standards can help keep drugs out of less-determined hands.

Peer pressure. Peers play a huge role at each stage of a child's or adolescent's drug experience — whether resisting them, experimenting, becoming a user or confronting withdrawal and recovery. The need for peer acceptance is especially strong during the early adolescent years and can override (or at least seriously challenge) a young person's values and commitments. "Just say no" may not mean a whole lot when smoking, drinking or taking drugs determines who is included among the highly esteemed ranks of the inner circle.

There are three obvious implications: First, it is...